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Medical Tests for Your 60s and Up

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Also important, but not endorsed by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, are the following tests:

  • Blood Sugar. Diabetes is a potentially life-threatening condition, but it doesn't have to be. The American Diabetes Association recommends that a fasting blood sugar test be done at least once every 3 years, so you can catch diabetes early and manage it.
  • Thyroid hormone test. Thyroid problems are easily missed. That's why screening at least once every 5 years is important, especially for women, according to the American Thyroid Association. Your thyroid, that innocuous-looking gland in your neck is the body's powerhouse, producing hormones needed for metabolism. Problems with the thyroid can cause hair loss, weight gain or weight loss, fatigue, and depression.
  • Looking for moles. Remember this: Although the majority of your sun exposure occurred before age 18, skin cancers can take 20 years or more to develop. Luckily, most skin cancers are curable. The American Cancer Society recommends regular screening. So don't forget to ask your doctor to check your skin for unusual moles or skin changes once a year.
  • Dental Exam. Gum disease can be an important indicator of your overall health. Your teeth, gums, mouth, and throat need to be regularly examined by a dentist. Regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing is important if you want to keep your pearly whites gleaming. Consider using an electric toothbrush, it helps with cleaning and prevention of gum disease.

Don't forget that taking care of your health extends beyond visiting your doctor's office. The task force recommends that you do the right thing not only for your health, but for others as well by:

  • Exercising regularly and watching your diet.
  • Not smoking, drinking alcohol excessively, or using drugs
  • Wearing seatbelts with lap/shoulder straps
  • Storing firearms safely
  • Using smoke detectors
  • Using a helmet on bicycles and motorcycles
  • Practicing safe sex, using condoms
  • Driving safely, no alcohol or drugs
  • Setting hot water heaters at 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Learning CPR
  • Being sensible, avoiding falls and injury
  • Getting help for depression and anxiety

Medical screening tests are gifts that keep on giving -- you'll enjoy better health and you may add years to your life. So make a note to schedule a visit to your dentist and call your doctor each year around your birthday. These visits only take an hour or two of your time, and the results are priceless.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Elizabeth A. Martinez, DVM on August 13, 2012
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