Turning 60? Here are 6 essential health checks you may need

Feb 05, 2022
It's important to take charge of your health and get the appropriate checks and tests. Source: Getty Images.

Your 60s are considered your golden years, a time to relish what you’ve earned. To enjoy yourself, let go, start a new hobby and make the most of your newfound free time.

However, as you age the number of health ailments can increase alongside the need for regular medical testing and check-ups. Now is the time to feel good, retain your independence and feel happy and healthy but in order to do that you need to take charge of your health and ensure you are receiving the recommended health checks and tests.

Starts at 60 sought out the experts and found the recommendations to follow to ensure you remain your most healthy self, allowing you to enjoy your time with the grandkids or that extra round of golf.

Pop Up GP‘s Dr. Deepak Gaur highlights the importance of health assessments in “mitigating the risk of serious medical conditions” and “diagnosing these issues as early as possible so that individuals have the best possible health outcomes.”

“Everyone over 60 years old should have comprehensive health assessments that include a General Practitioner taking a history of any symptoms, performing a physical examination, ordering baseline tests, and ensuring patients are integrated into screening initiatives such as the National Bowel Cancer Program,” he said.

“A comprehensive health assessment performed annually by a General Practitioner is a pragmatic approach for patients over 60 years old and these assessments will be more frequent for individuals with chronic medical conditions such as Diabetes Mellitus.”

Dr Gaur said the goal with regular health is to “minimize risk and maximise quality of life.”

There are a number of health checks over 60s should be focusing on to ensure their wellbeing. The following are simple tests that are important to stay on top of:

Regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks

Managing blood pressure and cholesterol is crucial to maintaining heart health. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can cause a greater risk of heart attack, stroke, and other health problems. These conditions can often be present but have no warning signs so the need for regular checks is crucial.

According to WebMD it’s best to check your blood pressure at least once every couple of years, more frequent checks should be conducted if you suffer from other health conditions. Adults should have a cholesterol check at least once every four to six years.

Bone density and osteoporosis checks

Healthy Bones Australia recommends “women and men over 50 with risk factors for osteoporosis need a bone check up with a bone density scan”. Your GP can provide a referral for a bone density scan. If scan the result shows osteopenia then a scan every one to five years is required, if the results indicate osteoporosis then a scan will be required every one to two years. Regular exercise combined with adequate vitamin D and calcium intake is important to maintaining bone health.

Screening for bowel cancer

Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world with 1 in 13 Australians developing their disease in their lifetime, according to Bowel Cancer Australia. When you turn 50 you will be invited to take part in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program every 2 years until the age of 74. According to the Department of Health “age is the biggest risk factor for bowel cancer”.

Skin checks if you notice any changes

According to Cancer Council Australia “more than 11,500 Australian men and women are diagnosed with a melanoma each year, and an estimated 434,000 people are treated for one or more non-melanoma”. Early detection is crucial to preventing the spread of melanoma and ensuring treatment is effective.

Queensland Cancer Council‘s Cancer Support and Information General Manager, Gemma Lock, said that when it comes to preventing skin cancer the public should be “checking their skin regularly and becoming familiar with what is normal for them”.

“Skin cancers rarely hurt and are more frequently seen than felt. Things to look out for include, new moles, freckles or lumps, or any changes to existing spots including changes in size, shape or colour as well as any spots with sores that don’t heal over four to six weeks,” she said.

Prostate Exam

According to the Cancer Council “around 17,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year in Australia” with the disease affecting men in older age groups. There are two common methods when testing for prostate cancer, the first is prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and the other a digital rectal examination (DRE). The recommendation is to have a PSA blood test every two years from age 50 to age 69. If you have a family history of prostate cancer its recommended to get tested earlier.

Breast Cancer Screening

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, with one in seven women diagnosed with breast cancer during their life, according to Breast Screen Queensland. It’s recommended women age 50 to 74 should have a breast screen every two years. Research indicates regular testing at two year intervals is the most effective way to detect small cancers that can be easily treated.

Among these crucial health checks and screenings are regular dental checks. Eye exams are also an important step in maintaining good health. Although this may be daunting, it’s always better to know. You can’t tackle what you are unsure of.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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