Preventive Measures—at Any Age?

seniors elderly man woman Here are some preventive tips to keep you healthy after 50.

Screening

Many groups have screening guidelines that may differ from one another. Here is what the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) suggests:

Men and Women

  • Get tested for colorectal cancer. There is more than one kind of test. Talk with your doctor to find out which one is right for you.
  • Your doctor may use your yearly exam to ask whether you have had feelings of depression.
  • Check your blood pressure at least every 2 years. A high blood pressure measurement is 130/80 or higher.
  • People who have high blood pressure may also be screened for diabetes.
  • Get a cholesterol profile regularly. Your doctor can help you plan a schedule.
  • Have your weight and height checked so your body mass index (BMI) can be calculated. This helps to find out if you are overweight or obese.
  • Some behaviors can raise the risk of HIV. If these apply to you, talk to your doctor about getting an HIV test:
    • Sex with a high-risk person already infected with HIV
    • Having more than one sex partner
    • Sex with someone who has more than one sex partner
    • Sex without a condom, including vaginal and anal sex
    • Having other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
    • Injecting illegal drugs, especially with used or dirty needles
    • Regular exposure to HIV-contaminated blood or other fluids
    • Having a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985
    • Receiving donated blood products, tissue, organs, or artificial insemination before 1985
    • Uncircumcised penis—circumcised men have a lower risk of HIV infection than uncircumcised men
  • Talk to your doctor about being tested for other STIs.

Men Only

  • Men aged 65 to 75 who smoke or have smoked in the past may need to be screened for abdominal aortic aneurysm.
  • Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of having a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test to screen you for prostate cancer.
  • Talk to your doctor about whether you should have a bone density test when you turn 70 years of age. It is done to screen for osteoporosis.

Women Only

  • Have a mammogram every 2 years to screen for breast cancer.
  • Have a Pap smear every 3 years. If you have a human papillomavirus (HPV) test with the Pap smear, you can have the testing done every 5 years. This length of screening applies as long as you have always had normal Pap smears. If you are over 65 years of age and the tests before you turned 65 were normal, then you do not need to be tested.
  • Have a bone density test when you turn 65 years of age to screen for osteoporosis. Women younger than 65 should talk with their doctor about whether they need to be tested.

Your doctor may want you to have other screenings. If you are worried about any health problems that run in your family, talk to your doctor about whether you should be tested. You should also talk to your doctor about any changes you have noticed in your health, such as vision or hearing changes.

Other Things You Can Do

There are other things that USPSTF says you can do to maintain your health and lower the risk of health problems.

Make sure to get a flu shot every year. You may also want to get shots to lower your risk of pneumonia and shingles. Talk with your doctor about which immunizations are right for you.

Also, women who have a family history of breast cancer may want to speak with their doctor about medicines used to lower their risk.

Tips for Every Day

  • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthful diet that is low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Reach or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Limit alcohol.
RESOURCES:

American Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.org

National Institute on Aging
http://www.nia.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The College Family Physicians of Canadian
http://www.cfpc.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

REFERENCES:

ACOG statement on breast cancer screening guidelines. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/news/news-releases/2016/01/acog-statement-on-breast-cancer-screening-guidelines. Accessed November 3, 2021.

Cervical cancer screening. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/cervical-cancer-screening. Accessed November 3, 2021.

Cervical cancer: screening. US Preventive Services Task Force website. Available at: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/cervical-cancer-screening. Accessed November 3, 2021.

Evaluation of osteoporosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/evaluation/evaluation-of-osteoporosis. Accessed November 3, 2021.

Mammography for breast cancer screening. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/mammography-for-breast-cancer-screening. Accessed November 3, 2021.

Prevention and chronic are. AHRQ website. Available at: https://www.ahrq.gov/prevention/chronic-care/index.html. Accessed November 3, 2021.

Prostate cancer screening. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/prostate-cancer-screening. Accessed November 3, 2021.

Screening for breast cancer. US Preventive Services Task Force website. Available at: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/draft-update-summary/breast-cancer-screening1. Accessed November 3, 2021.

Last reviewed November 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board  Last Updated: 11/3/2021