As you move into your 60s, regular preventive health checks with your health care professional become even more important.
A health check is an examination of your current state of health. From the moment you are born, and even before, there are a variety of tests carried out to ensure you are on the right track to good health.
As you get older, many will become more vulnerable to illness. In order to reduce this risk, a number of health checks or screening tests are recommended throughout your 60s and beyond.
Health checks help find, prevent or lessen the effect of health issues. It’s like getting your car serviced before it breaks down. It’s better to avoid disease than to treat it. Although some checks can be uncomfortable, they provide your health care professional or specialist with an opportunity to look at your lifestyle, medical history and family history to find out if you’re at risk.
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Chances are you have a regular doctor or practice and this comes with many benefits. The biggest one is that you’ve developed a relationship over time and have a level of comfort with your doctor that would allow you to talk about your ailments more openly. Additionally, your medical records are all in one place and this makes keeping your information up to date much easier.
What sort of health checks are there in your 60s?
In addition to things like eye exams, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose level checks, dental checks, skin cancer checks and healthy weight assessments, which you should have been getting on a regular basis anyway, there are several checks that become crucial in your 60s and beyond.
Breast check and mammogram
Women should be doing self-checks regularly and should be seeing their doctors at least every two years for a breast check and mammogram. Things to look for include changes in the size or shape of the breast or nipple, changes in the skin over the breast such as redness or dimpling, lumps or lumpiness.
It’s worth noting that if you’re between the ages of 50 and 65, Breast Screen Australia does free mammograms for you every two years.
Bone density scan
Your bones require calcium and other minerals to give them the strength and thickness (bone mass or density). Osteoporosis is a health condition where your bones become brittle due to mineral loss. This means you are more likely to break or fracture your bones. A bone density scan checks the bone mineral density of multiple bones in the body. The most accurate and useful test is a type of X-ray known as a DXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry or DEXA) scan.
Men, osteoporosis also affects one in three of you in Australia over the age of 60. If you are over the age of 50 you should ask your doctor to assess your risk for osteoporosis.
Faecal occult blood test (FOBT)
Research shows that your risk of bowel cancer increases quite significantly once you reach the age of 50. Bowel cancer screening generally involves a test for blood in the stool, which can be an early warning sign of bowel cancer. Screening is usually carried out through a FOBT, which involves a simple test that you can use at home and then send to a laboratory for analysis.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program offers free screening to Australians over the age of 50.
Say what? Hearing problems can affect your quality of life. Fifty percent of people in Australia have some level of hearing loss that makes communication difficult. While your doctor can treat minor conditions that cause temporary hearing loss, such as ear infections, they might refer you to a hearing service for more permanent hearing problems. Audiologists carry out a range of hearing tests to determine your degree of hearing loss, and investigate possible causes of your hearing problems.
If you’ve got a a valid Pensioner Concession or Department of Veterans’ Affairs repatriation health card may be eligible for government-funded hearing services.