A few words of warning if you ignore health checks!

So you have reached the ripe old age of 60 and are feeling very healthy, but you find you cannot reach your toes as easily and you are puffing going up the stairs. Now, if you are not going to bother getting any tests done, let me tempt you with a few recent stories on medical checks for 60s and over.

There was my cousin who received a bowel test kit from the government at the age of 50 years (as we all do) and he left it on the counter in the kitchen. He had a new girlfriend that was a nurse and she started to nag him after a couple of weeks because he had done nothing about it. She wanted to know why he would not do this simple test. Even though he considered himself the “He” man of all time, finally he gave in and sent off his specimen to the appropriate place. When the results came back in, he was dismayed to find he had bowel cancer. The panic to get into specialists and have the appropriate operation followed.

Then I had a brother I found that had been adopted at birth. He had been interested to know what illnesses ran in the family and I told him some of the siblings had haemochromatosis.  He just seemed to brush it off as too difficult, until I heard from him again some years later. Having lost his business and home in the Bundaberg floods and finding himself single all of a sudden, he phoned me to ask what it was I had told him about his blood, as he was getting checked out. It was a genetic blood disorder for ferritin (too much iron in the system rather than the blood). This chronic genetic disorder had all nasty complications if allowed to get out of control. He had very high levels detected and is now on the road to stability.

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There was another relative of mine who had been seeing an eye doctor every year because he had Type II diabetes. He had been paying $330 for each appointment only to find that he was perfectly healthy. He stopped going at 55 years old, figuring that where he got his glasses was giving him the same sort of tests. But were they the same? 5 years later he went to Big W for an eye test for glasses. They had some new machine there that you paid an extra $50 to find out the health of your eye. I do not know why he paid the $50. The optometrist advised him he had a growth on the back of his eye and he needed to see a specialist. Two specialists later it was found he had a medium size melanoma inside his eye that needed immediate treatment to save his life.

It is never fun to be told you have some form of cancer and the treatment is often a long road of horrible drugs and hospitals. One friend is currently lining up for an operation for bladder cancer while the other is having chemotherapy for a breast lump. It affects all the family and emotions are often delicate. But we can help ourselves by doing the regular testing and getting to know our bodies and look for problems before they arise.

At 63, my aunt was found to have critical calcium levels which were picked up on a simple blood test. Having found it hard to remember to take tablets, she changed her tablets to a mint chewable form and now remembers them every night.

My friend John went for a heart check because of swollen ankles and puffing only to find his heart was running a little fast. Now there are records of his ECG kept by his doctor and he is able to compare his results if his condition gets any worse.

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So what sort of tests should we be regularly undertaking to ensure we are on track with our health at 60?

  • Breast check and mammogram
  • Bone density scan
  • Eye check for glaucoma
  • Prostate exam
  • Bowel cancer heck
  • Chronic disease check including heart
  • Type 2 diabetes check
  • Sun cancer check
  • Audiologist
  • ECG

Even diet and exercise levels as well.

These are just a few checks and if you want to know more, have a look at your health insurance site and see what checks they recommend for your age. Furthermore, don’t throw out those old X rays or evidence of past problems as I recently had to dig out 10 years of X rays to take to the specialist so he could see how fast an illness had developed over the years.

 

Do you have regular health checks? Have you had a check that saved your life? Tell us about it below.