How to boost your longevity in your 60s and beyond

Mar 22, 2020
This might be the key to a longer, healthier life. Source: Getty.

It’s no secret that a healthy diet and plenty of exercise are key to good health, but Dr David Badov from HealthScreen Australia reckons simple health checks are the key to a longer, healthier life.

Even if you feel fit and healthy, Badov says it’s a good idea to visit your doctor regularly for screening tests.

What are screening tests and why are they important?

Regular health checks and screening tests can identify any early signs of health issues, Badov explains. Screening may involve tests, examinations and advice on self-checks.

“It’s a fact that very few of us will die from old age, it’s usually heart disease, stroke or cancer that cuts our lives short,” he says. “One in two Australians will develop cancer at some point in their life, and heart attacks kill one Australian every 12 minutes.”

Badov says a screening test is performed as a preventative measure, adding: “They say prevention is better than cure which is particularly true for diseases such as cancer. The goal of our screening program is to detect potentially life-threatening diseases during the early stages when more treatment options are available.”

In fact, research shows that bowel cancer screening reduces the risk of fatality by up to 45 per cent. Meanwhile, breast cancer mortality has also decreased since screening was introduced in Australia from 1991 to 1995 through the BreastScreen Australia program.

How often should you get a check-up?

“The frequency of a health screening depends on many factors including your current personal health, your family history and other current medical conditions such as diabetes.”

Your doctor will provide you with a personal plan and tailored medical advice.

Health checks for older people

It’s important to talk to your GP about health checks that you should have and when to have them. However, here’s a brief overview of the key screening tests adults over 50 should undergo.

Bowel cancer

Every two years, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program mails free bowel cancer screening tests to all Australians aged between 50 and 74. Once you receive a kit, it’s as simple as a person going to the bathroom in their own home. Complete with everything a person needs to successfully obtain their stool sample, the kit allows scientists to detect traces of blood in the stool which can be a sign of bowel cancer.

Breast cancer

According to Cancer Council Australia, mammography is the recommended screening tool for the early detection of breast cancer. The government’s national screening program, BreastScreen Australia, invites women aged between 50 to 74 to undergo free mammograms every two years. Women aged over 74 can also be screened free of charge on request.

Bone density

The risk of osteoporosis increases with age, so it’s not uncommon for doctors to request a bone density test. A Medicare rebate is available for people aged 70-plus, who have an overactive thyroid, coeliac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, liver or kidney disease, been previously diagnosed with osteoporosis and women with early menopause.

Prostate cancer

It is recommended men have a check-up once a year, although further tests could be required if you have a history of cancer in your family, or if a health professional finds any abnormalities.

Visual impairment

Annual eye examinations with an optometrist are encouraged to assess vision and the risk of developing eye disease in future. Those aged under 65 can claim a Medicare rebate on regular eye tests once every three years and over-65s can claim once a year. Rebates can be claimed more regularly for ongoing issues such as glaucoma.

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.

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