As we grow older, we all become a little more concerned about our health. Not only is it important to stay healthy for yourself, but for your family and friends. The simplest way to prevent getting sick is preventive health care.
“The preservation of health is the easiest cure for the disease.”
So, in honor of National Women’s Health Week (May 10th-16, 2020), we’re making a Women’s Health Checklist, so we can all know what preventive health care we need to be taking part in as we age. Check it out below:
-Annual Wellness Exam
Everyone should get a wellness check-up each year. Wellness check-ups include a physical exam, the doctor will make sure you are up to date with your vaccinations and will also screen you for diseases. Your healthcare provider should also talk with you about your personal health habits, including your diet and exercise routine, as well as avoiding tobacco. If you have a chronic medical condition, you might need more than once a year visits.
Bone Mineral Density Test- Women reach their peak bone mass at age 30. After that is when bone loss starts to occur.
After the age of 65, every woman should have a bone mineral density test done at least once. If there is a risk of osteoporosis, you should have a bone mineral density test done before the age of 65. Women of all ages should work to keep their bones strong and healthy. Check with your doctor about what weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises are safe for you.
Clinical Breast Exam- A clinical breast exam should be performed for all women ages 20 to 39 years old, at least every 1-3 years. After the age of 40, your healthcare provider will probably recommend doing a clinical breast exam once a year. Also, if there is a history of breast cancer in your family, it might also be recommended for more frequent visits.
Mammogram- A yearly mammogram is recommended after the age of 40. If there is a family history of breast cancer, you should start sooner than age 40.
After the age of 50, you should have a colonoscopy. Then it should be repeated every 10 years. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, your healthcare provider will probably recommend having a colonoscopy before the age of 50 and more frequently than every 10 years.
Blood Glucose Test-At the age of 45, a blood glucose test is recommended and the screening should be repeated at least every 3 years. If you are a higher risk person (i.e. being overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, history of gestational diabetes) screenings will probably begin earlier than age 45.
-Eye, Ear and Dental Health
Eye Exam- All adults should receive a comprehensive eye examination by the age of 40. If you have any pre-existing eye conditions, you should go to an ophthalmologist a lot earlier. Some of these eye conditions consist of a family history of eye disease, or if you are at risk of any chronic conditions such as glaucoma, high blood pressure, or diabetes, and if you experience any visual changes, eye trauma, or other ocular symptoms. After the age of 65, be sure to get your eyes checked for cataracts every 1-2 years, as well as, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
Hearing Test- If you ever have issues with your hearing, make sure to talk with your healthcare provider and get a hearing test.
Dental Exams and Cleanings- It is recommended that everyone see their dentist every 6 to 12 months for a dental exam and cleaning unless otherwise recommended by a healthcare professional.
-Reproductive and Sexual Health
Cervical Cancer Screening- Women in their 20s should have a Pap test every three years to screen for cervical cancer. Women ages 30 to 65 should have a Pap test and a human papillomavirus (HPV) test every 5 years. After the age of 65 or 70, women can stop screenings after having 3 or more Pap tests in a row with no abnormalities in 10 years.
Sexual Transmitted Infections- Between the ages of 13 and 64, women should get tested at least once for HIV as a part of routine healthcare. Any woman with occasional exposure to HIV risk should get tested at least once a year.
Pregnant women should also get screened for HIV at the start of the pregnancy. Any woman under the age of 25 that is sexually active should be screened for gonorrhea and chlamydia at least once a year. After the age of 25, talk with your healthcare provider to see if you should continue to be screened.
Blood Pressure- Starting at age 20, you should have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years. Women with high blood pressure may need to be screened more often.
Cholesterol-Every 4-6 years your cholesterol should be checked, after the age of 20. Women with a family history of high cholesterol, if you currently have high cholesterol, or if you have risk factors for conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, more than likely you will need to be screened more often.
Also, if you are at risk for heart disease, stroke, or have any other risk factors, your healthcare provider may recommend that your blood pressure and cholesterol be checked more often.
Vaccinations aren’t just for children. There are vaccinations for adults as well. Check with your healthcare provider to see if you are up-to-date with your vaccines, such as flu shot and tetanus.
Shingles can cause a rash, be very painful, and last for months at a time. There is a shot to prevent shingles for women over the age of 60.
Women over the age of 65 may need vaccinations to prevent pneumonia, meningitis, and blood infections, as these can be very deadly the older you get.
For women younger than the age of 26, there is an HPV vaccine that is recommended.
-Mental and Emotional Health
Your healthcare provider is not only for your physical health. If you ever have any mental or emotional concerns such as anxiety, depression, eating disorder, or addiction, make sure to talk with your healthcare provider. They may prescribe you some medication or refer you to someone that can help.
If you notice any unusual moles or skin changes speak with your healthcare provider. Also, if there is a family history of skin cancer, make sure your healthcare provider knows. Additional screenings might be needed.
Make sure to protect your skin from ultraviolet rays from the sun. It can cause damage to your skin as well as cancer. Wear sunscreen every time you’re out in the sun, as well as sunglasses, a hat, and long sleeves if necessary.