Senior Health: It's often confusing for older adults to keep track of their medical needs.
Some tests need to be completed every few years to stay on top of senior health. Others are yearly. This makes it hard to know exactly when to go to the doctor for a check-up.
Does your dad see his doctor often enough? He should go yearly, but there are health issues that may require him to go more frequently. Here's what you should know.
He Should Go Yearly
After the age of 50, your dad should see his doctor a minimum of once a year. If he feels something is wrong, he should go sooner rather than later. If he has a chronic health condition, he may need to go three or four times a year.
In the annual doctor's check-up, he'll have his blood pressure checked. If it's high or borderline, he may need to get it checked more often than once a year. He can do that at home or at a pharmacy or grocery store if he doesn't want to have to go back to his doctor every couple of months.
His primary care doctor isn't the only doctor he should see. He needs to go to the dentist at least once a year for an exam and cleaning. His dentist may recommend more yearly visits if he has gum disease or is allowed more than two cleanings per year. He also needs to see his eye doctor once a year for a comprehensive eye exam to check for diseases like cataracts, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy.
Tests Your Dad Needs
By the time your dad is 50, he should go for his first colonoscopy. It's worth doing the full colonoscopy. If any polyps are found, they can be removed at the same time. If he only does the stool occult blood test and blood is found, he'll have to go for a colonoscopy anyway.
A family history of osteoporosis or low bone density is something he should bring up with his doctor. If there is a family history, he may need to do bone density screenings earlier than normal. At the very least, he should talk about steps to maintain his bone strength.
Your dad will have his blood drawn to check for diabetes and get his current cholesterol levels. He may have the tests to check liver and kidney function, too.
Ask your dad when he last went to the doctor. If it's been more than a year, it's time to schedule an appointment. He needs to get caught up on vaccinations, blood tests, and general health exams.
You may not live nearby, which makes it hard to bring him to the doctor. Home care aides can help him schedule appointments, get to the medical office, and bring him back home and in general their overall senior health. If he needs any prescription medications, his caregiver can pick them up. Call a home care representative to make arrangements.