Monthly Archives: April 2014

Essential Medical Test and Health Screenings for Older Adults- Men Only!

elderly-annual-wellness-appointmentAlthough older adult men (age 65+) should schedule annual teats and screenings for skin cancer, colonoscopy, blood work and glaucoma- older adult males should also focus on two (2) male-specific tests: PSA (prostate specific antigen) and AAA (abdominal aortic aneurysm) screening.  Note:  For information on specific tests and screenings for both men and women combined, please click on the following phrase: medical tests and health screenings for older adult men and women combined.  For women only, please click on the phrase: medical tests and health screenings for older adult women.



It is recommended by physicians that older adult men schedule at least a one-time test between the ages of 65 to 75.  Those who are at special risk for this screening if they have or do smoke and/or have a first-degree relative who required repair of AAA.  AAA is a dilation or a “ballooning” out of a section of the aorta, the body’s largest artery.  A rupture of AAA can be life-threatening in a short period of time, although AAA can be treated with a variety of procedures.  as such, AAA is most common among older adult men aged 65 to 75 and is even more prevalent among older adult men of this age range who were and or continue to be smokers.  Current health or medical and/or family medical history may dictate that a patient schedule tests at an earlier age or schedule them at more frequent intervals.

What is ENDOVASCULAR REPAIR (as mentioned above):  Endovascular repair consists of a small fabric tube with metal stents attached to the fabric that is threaded up through the groin arteries until it reaches the diseased portion of the aorta, where it is opened.  It reinforces the blood vessel from the inside and creates a new channel through which the blood flows.

What is OPEN SURGICAL REPAIR:  An incision is made in the abdomen to access the aneurysm.  The diseased portion is replaced with a graft that acts as a replacement blood vessel.


Most medical organizations recommend that men begin prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening with a physician between the age of forty (40) and fifty (50).  The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends screenings for older adult men with no symptoms of prostate cancer who are in relatively good health and can expect to live at least ten (10) more years.

Key Medical Tests and Health Screenings For Older Adults- Women Only!

fall-prevention-wellness-exam-senior-patientRegularly scheduled wellness exams, physicals, medical tests and health screenings are important to maintaining overall positive health and go a long way toward minimizing the occurrence of the top three occurrences of elderly death- heart attack, cancer and stroke.  The following is a list of key medical tests and health screenings important to women as they age in place.  Note:  For tests and screenings for men and women, please click on the following phrase; medical tests and health screenings for men and women combined.  For tests and screenings for men, please click on the following phrase: medical tests and health screenings for men as older adults.



Known as a DXA scan (densitometry), physicians use this scan to determine if a patient has osteoporosis or is at risk for osteoporosis.  This testing should start at the age of sixty-five (65); age sixty (60) for those women who are at an increased risk for fractures and/or have a low body weight and for certain women who are prone to fall or who have fallen one or more times.


It is generally agreed in the medical community that all women above the age of fifty (50) should be screened with mammograms annually.  Some organizations such as the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommend screenings for mammograms start at the age of forty (40) and above.  The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends scheduling annual mammograms up to the age of seventy-four (74).


Older adult women should be screened for cervical cancer up to the age of sixty-five (65) if the older adult has maintained “adequate screening”.  Adequate screening is defined as three (3) consecutive negative tests or two 92) consecutive HPV/Pap co-tests in the ten (10) years prior to stopping, with the most recent within five (5) years.


This test is for thyroid disease measures the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone being produced by the female body.  The score is used to determine whether medication therapy is needed and if a physician should adjust the medication to help a patient reach a healthy and normal level.  Older adult women age sixty (60) and older should have a TSH test annually.

Medical Tests and Health Screenings Older Adults Should Do Now

fall-prevention-annual-wellness-exam-with-doctorAn annual wellness appointment or physical check-up is essential for any healthy older adult (age 65+).  Blood pressure, cholesterol levels (good and bad cholesterol), and an all body (head to toe) exam are all very important- yet it is the screening tests that can go a long way to reassuring a generally healthy older adult that a heart attack, stroke or cancer condition are not in the near future.  Regular health screenings for older adults is critical to maintaining good medical health and which also serves to minimize the occurrence of one of those top three causes of elderly death- heart attack, cancer and stroke.  The following is a list of key medical tests and health screenings for men and women combined.  Note: For test and screenings specifically for men, click on the following phrase: medical tests and health screenings for men as older adults.  For tests and screenings specifically for women, click on the following phrase: medical tests and health screenings for women as older adults.



At the very least, schedule an annual check-up of your blood pressure, cholesterol and fasting glucose.  your physician may also recommend checks for hormone levels, liver enzymes, electrolytes and other indicators.  an annual screening of blood pressure and cholesterol measurements (the good and bad cholesterol)  can help identify asymptomatic individuals at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.  alternative screenings such as calcium score and various stress tests can be screenings performed for older adults who have known heart disease or symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain.


This medical test can identify polyps early so they can be removed before they become life threatening.  many physicians recommend having the first colonoscopy at the age of fifty (50) years of age; then every ten (10) years thereafter.  A personal or family history of polyps may indicate a need for more frequent medical testing.


Most physicians recommend a thorough eye examination that also includes a glaucoma screening.  if an older adult experiences impaired or blurred vision, seek medical attention immediately and do not wait for the annual calender year vision and eye wear check-up.


Older adults, men and women alike, should conduct monthly checks of their skin for any change in the color, size, texture, or shape of a mole, freckle or spot, or for any new markings.  ask a spouse, partner or confidant to check hard-to-see places on your body such as the back, neck or the back of legs.  start with a dermatologist appointment for a whole-body check to make sure existing freckles, spots and marks are okay and to identify anything that is suspicious and needs further observation and analysis.  Post dermatology exam, schedule an annual skin cancer check-up or even more frequently in the event the older adult has had skin cancers identified or if advised by your physician.

Do not put your life at risk.  Skin cancer or especially pre-skin cancer, if caught early can be prevented.  Stay on top of your health.

Older Adult Health Advisory- A Caution About Dietary Supplements

Several Prescription Pill Bottles in a PileIn 2013, dietary supplement products are not regulated or screened by the U.S. Government’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  This means dietary supplement manufacturers can market and sell their products to the consumer marketplace without first having to prove the efficacy.

Furthermore, there are more than 54,000 dietary supplement products (pill, liquid and powder formulations) listed in the Natural medicines Comprehensive Database and only thirty-three percent (33%) have some level of scientific “endorsement” for their effectiveness.  Approximately, twelve percent (12%) have been singled out or red-flagged for safety issues, with safety being a critical concern.

This low level of FDA oversight can potentially translate into inadequate quality control of the dietary supplement product manufacturers and the industry they represent.  As more than fifty-percent (50%) of American’s (and to a large degree the older adult community at-large) take dietary supplements on a fairly regular basis, this may cause more harm than good for people who look to these supplements to keep them healthy.  As a result, these supplements (not all mind you) across the board, may contain too much or too little active ingredient, and may also be contaminated.


If you are currently, or have recently stopped, taking dietary supplement products, you should inform your physician.  This is even more important if the user takes other medications.  It is possible for the dietary supplements to interact with your conventional drug medications in a negative manner (i.e. side effects). avoid taking the following dietary supplements as being identified by the Consumers Union (CU)  as being linked to case and/or clinical reports to serious side effects:

Aconite; Bitter Orange; Chaparral; Colloidal Silver; Coltsfoot; Comfrey; Country Mallow; Germanium; Greater Celandine; Kava; Lobelia; and Yohimbe.

Always consult or inform your physician and pharmacist regarding any prescription drug medication, over the counter medication or dietary supplement product you may be currently or thinking of taking in the near future.  We also suggest you consider scheduling an annual wellness appointment with your primary physician or local health care provider to review and manage your medications.

Aging In Place For Seniors – Memory and Sexuality

older-adult-couple-anxiety-about-fallingIn our continuing series focusing on health and wellness for older adults and the elderly, Part 5 discusses how you can promote better health for memory and sexuality.  As noted in previous blog articles in this series, your body goes through a normal process of changes that affect your physical, mental and emotional make-up. Scheduling regular medical, dental and other related human services exams and appointments is important to making healthy lifestyle choices that can reduce the impact of the aging process in older adults.


What to expect:  As you age, memory becomes less efficient with every day activities.  For example, it may take longer to conjure up a familiar name, object, descriptive word or phrase.  It may even take a longer period of time to learn new tasks or to perform a routine task.

What you can do about it:  To maintain an active memory, older adults have to “feed the brain” through stimulation, diet and proper rest.  Here’s your plan:

EAT A HEALTHY DIET:  A heart healthy diet provides major benefits to the brain.  Fruits, vegetables and whole grains can drive nutrients straight to the brain.  Low fat protein sources like fish, lean meat and skinless chicken can turbo-charge the body and brain.  Drink plenty of low-sugar liquids such as bottled or tap water, low caloric-no sugar sports drink and natural juices.  Vegetables and fruit are natural sources of water to feed the body and brain.  Reduce your maximum intake of alcoholic beverages to no more than two drinks per day.  Smoking should be eliminated.

BE MENTALLY ACTIVE:  Mentally stimulating activities condition the brain to perform at its optimal level; think of how an athlete trains and conditions to perform at their peak best.  This will help keep any emerging memory loss at bay.  Fun and stimulating activities to fuel the brain can include engaging in a weekly group discussion or club, crossword puzzles and other similar group games, playing and/or listening to music, live concerts and theater performances, learning a new activity or task, volunteering and more.

BE SOCIAL:  Social interaction with friends, acquaintances and new introductions are found to be very effective in minimizing stress and preventing depression.  Stress and depression are key drivers to potential memory loss.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY/EXERCISE:  Daily physical activity and/or an exercise routine dramatically increases blood flow to the entire body and more specifically the brain.  Consider gentle and gradual exercise that may include walking, brisk/race walking, yoga and stretching, tai chi, tennis, golf, swimming and more.  Not only do these activities help to keep your brain and memory active and intact, you will sleep better and feel better mentally and physically.


What to expect:  As you age, sexual needs, patterns and performance may change.  Illness, chronic medical conditions and medications could affect ones ability to perform and enjoy sexual activity.  Additionally, vaginal dryness can make having sex uncomfortable for women; while impotence and erectile dysfunction for men can become a concern.

What you can do about it:  To promote and attain sexual health for you and your loved one, share your concerns and needs with your partner- communication is essential, productive and healthy.  Most importantly, have a conversation with your physician or health care professional regarding specific conditions or concerns where treatment may be offered (i.e. estrogen cream for vaginal dryness and oral medications for erectile dysfunction).

As always, we encourage all seniors and the elderly to consult with a physician and/or health care professional regarding personal health conditions, nutritional, dietary and exercise programs.  We also advise to obtain and complete our First Response Personal Emergency Medical Data Form in the event of a medical emergency at home or outside.

To read more of this 5 part blog series, please click on the following links and go to: Part 1 (MY CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM; MY BLADDER & URINARY TRACT); Part 2 (MY DIGESTIVE SYSTEM); Part 3 (MY BONES, JOINTS AND MUSCLES); and Part 4 (MY EYES, EARS; MY TEETH; AND MY SKIN).