Turning 60? Here are the 6 essential health checks you need for your best chapter yet

Mar 18, 2024
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 enjoy yourself, let go, start a new hobby, and make the most of your newfound free time.

While ageing may bring an increase in health considerations and the importance of regular medical check-ups, it’s also a time to prioritise feeling great, maintaining independence, and fostering happiness and well-being. Taking control of your health by staying up-to-date on recommended checks and tests is the key to ensuring you continue to thrive.

Starts at 60 connected with experts to gather valuable recommendations for maintaining your optimal health. By following these guidelines, you’ll be well-equipped to enjoy precious moments with your grandkids or indulge in that extra round of golf, embracing the positivity that life in your 60s can bring.

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 “minimise risk and maximise quality of life.”

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

Regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks for heart health

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.

Bone density test and osteoporosis screening

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 for maintaining bone health.

Bowel cancer screening

In 2023, a staggering 15,300 individuals received a diagnosis of bowel cancer, with the average age at which it is identified being 69 years old.

In an effort to turn the tide on this alarming number, 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 cancer check

At least 2 in 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime which is why 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, it’s estimated that more than 25,400 males were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2023 with the average age at diagnosis being 70 years old. 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 it’s recommended to get tested earlier.

Breast Cancer Screening

In Australia, breast cancer stands as the predominant form of cancer among women. The year 2023 witnessed over 20,600 individuals receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer, with the average age at which it is identified being 62 years old.

It’s recommended women aged 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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