Looking after your health is one of the most important things you can do, regular check-ups with a healthcare professional grow increasingly important as you get older. This is especially true if you have a family history of health problems. The goal of regular health examinations and screenings is to identify problems at an early stage. The sooner ailments and diseases can be found the better, as survival rates can increase and treatment may be successful.
The Key Health Checks for Over 40s
To make looking after your health as straight forward as possible we have compiled a list of essential tests and screenings we recommend!
General Health Checks for Men and Women
Annual Wellness Examination
For a general health check-up, arrange an annual wellness examination. A practitioner will review your medical history, measure your body mass index (BMI) and review your overall general health. You can raise any concerns you have, whether it is about your memory, symptoms you are experiencing or your mental health. As the name suggests, an annual wellness examination should be arranged every year to review your health. This is especially important if you do not go to the doctor during the year.
The risk of bowel cancer increases as you get older. A procedure that can detect early signs of the disease, such as blood, polyps or abnormal tissue, is a colonoscopy. This involves a tube being inserted into the large intestine and a doctor examining the bowel through a small camera. Depending on your risk of bowel cancer, an annual colonoscopy may be recommended.
Blood Glucose Test
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have an increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. It is recommended to have an annual blood glucose test to monitor your health and check your blood glucose levels to see if they are elevated. You will have to fast before this procedure. This should not be missed if you have a family history of diabetes, are overweight, live a sedentary lifestyle or eat unhealthily.
Even if you have 20/20 vision it is still recommended to get an eye examination to check your eyesight but also check for eye disease. Over 40s should consider an eye examination every two years, depending on your optometrist’s recommendation and medical history.
Watching the television at a loud volume or having trouble hearing friends and family may indicate hearing loss. This is particularly common as you get older. It is recommended that adults get their hearing tested every 10 years until age 50, and every 3 years after that.
A hearing test usually involves wearing earphones and listening to short tones played at different volumes and pitches into one ear at a time.
Blood Pressure Test
High blood pressure can put a strain on your heart. This means you may have an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke. A simple blood pressure test can detect whether you have high blood pressure so treatment can be provided. This should be done once a year as you get older. This is particularly true if you have heart problems already or have a family history of high blood pressure.
Cholesterol Blood Test
High cholesterol often has no obvious symptoms, if left untreated it can lead to serious complications like heart disease. You should have your cholesterol checked annually.
Regular skin checks can detect visible changes to the skin, such as the growth of harmful moles and freckles that adjust in colour, shape or size. It’s important to conduct at home self-examinations every 3 months and have an annual full-body examination by your GP.
Tooth decay and gum disease progress over time. Regular trips to the dentist for examination and a professional clean can help to keep your mouth healthy. You can also help by brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly. Cutting out excessive sugar may lower the risk of decay.
Men’s Health Check
Testicular Cancer Examinations
It is advised that men regularly examine their testicles to notice changes such as swelling or the growth of a lump. Unfortunately, the number of men suffering from testicular cancer has grown in the last 30 years. Keeping up-to-date with examinations will help with early detection.
Prostate Cancer Screening
Prostate cancer causes the second highest number of cancer deaths in Australia amongst men.
Speak with your GP if you’re concerned about your risk of prostate cancer or would like to know more about testing so you can make an informed decision.
For those who choose to proceed with prostate cancer tests, the general recommendation is to have a PSA blood test every 2 years from age 50 to age 69.
Women’s Health Check
More than 99% of cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Cervical Cancer Screening can detect precancerous changes or diagnose HPV infections earlier. Early detection can greatly improve outlook and increase chances of survival.
Cervical Cancer Screening is recommended for women aged between 25 to 74. If your result is normal then you only need cervical screening once every five years.
Regular breast examinations are key to early detection of cancer. This is a practice you can do at home on a monthly basis, feeling for lumps and looking for changes in size, shape and skin texture. You can learn how to check your breasts each month here.
A mammogram which is an x-tray of the breast tissue can also be completed every two years as a women’s health check. This is recommended for women 40 years and over.
Being proactive about your health is important!