Care for Seniors

As we grow older, our bodies and minds need more attention and care. It's never too late to benefit from preventive care and it doesn't require much. Eating a balanced diet, watching your weight, annual doctor visits and staying up-to-date on important shots, can help you manage your health, no matter your age.

Seniors (65 years old +)

As you get older, it's important to manage your health by having a primary care doctor who can provide the necessary tests that can help improve health outcomes. In addition to providing a routine physical health examination, your doctor may provide advice on:

·       Dental health

·       Diet, exercise, nutrition, physical activity and injury prevention

·       Sexual behavior, physical and emotional abuse by a partner and violence and abuse against vulnerable adults and the elderly  

·       Vision health

·       Quitting smoking, drug abuse, alcohol misuse and tobacco use

If you are at increased risk for certain cancers, you should ask your doctor about screening schedules and possibly starting your screenings at an earlier age than general recommendations. A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of developing a condition. Examples of risk factors can include your age, gender, family history or lifestyle.

During your exam, you may receive certain vaccines or immunization shots and screenings, depending on your health and your doctor’s judgment. Select a link below to learn more about immunizations, screenings and therapies:

Immunization can help keep you healthy. Learn about the immunizations you may need as you get older.

· Abdominal aortic aneurysm: If you are a male between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever smoked, talk to your doctor about a one-time screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm (an abnormal widening of the major blood vessels in the abdomen).

· Blood pressure measurement: Every two years for those with blood pressure less than 120/80 and yearly for those with blood pressure 120 to 139/80 to 90. Learn more about preventing high blood pressure.

· Breast exam and mammograms: A clinical breast exam done by a health professional is part of a routine physical checkup. This should be done every year, especially for women over 40. If you have a family history of breast cancer, a clinical breast exam may be recommended more frequently. Learn more about breast cancer screening and mammograms.

· Cervical Cancer Screening: Women aged 21 to 29 should start getting Pap tests at least every 3 years based on your test results and doctor’s guidance. Starting at age 30 talk to your doctor about which testing option is right for you whether it be a Pap test only, a HPV test only or both. Learn more about cervical cancer screening.

· Cholesterol: A simple blood test (lipid profile) is done by a healthcare professional to measure your cholesterol levels. Adults should get their cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years. Your doctor may recommend getting your cholesterol checked more often if you have a family history of high cholesterol or may be at risk for heart disease or diabetes. Learn more about cholesterol screening.

· Colon and rectal cancer: The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends starting regular screening at age 45 to age 75. Speak with your doctor about colon cancer screening and if any of the following tests are right for you.

o   Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years.

o   Yearly fecal occult blood test (FOBT).

o   Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year.

o   Colonoscopy every 10 years.

· Dental checkup: You should visit your dentist at least twice a year or as your doctor advises. Learn more about oral health for adults over 60.

· Depression screening: It is recommended that adults be assessed for depression from time to time to maintain good mental health. During a routine visit, your doctor may ask you a series of questions to determine your risk for depression. Learn more about depression and mental health.

· Diabetes screening: Diabetes increases the risk for heart disease and can affect men and women differently. You should get your blood glucose checked as early as age 45 and repeated every three years. Learn about the basics of diabetes, diabetes in men and diabetes in women.

· Hearing screening: Being exposed to hazardous levels of noise and other chemicals can cause hearing loss. It is recommended that your hearing be assessed from time to time or as your doctor advises. Learn more about preventing hearing loss.

• HIV screening: if you are sexually active and may be at risk for infection, you should be screened for HIV to age 65 and as your doctor advises. Learn the Basics of HIV .

• Lung cancer screening: Starting at age 55 and up to age 80, speak with your doctor about having an annual low-dose chest CT scan if you have a history of smoking at least a pack a day for 30 years and are still smoking or quit within the last 15 years.

• Obesity screening: The body mass index (BMI) is used to identify adults at risk for disease and death due to being overweight (a BMI at or above 25-29.9 kg/m2) and obese (a BMI at or above 30 kg/m2). Talk to your primary care doctor if you believe you might be at risk for obesity. Learn more about adult overweight and obesity and calculate your BMI.

• Prostate cancer screening: Men, aged 55 to 69 should talk to their doctor about the benefits and risks of screening. Learn more about prostate cancer.

• Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) screening: All sexually active men and women as well as older adults at risk, as part of a regular health care visit. Learn more about STDs.  

• Skin cancer screening: Should be part of a routine cancer-related checkup. Check yourself once a month. Learn more about skin cancer prevention.

• Vision/glaucoma screening: Yearly, as needed or directed by your doctor. Check with your eye doctor for recommended frequency of a complete eye exam if there is a history of eye injury, diabetes, family history of eye problems and/or you are an African American older than 40. Learn more about vision health.

The Preventive Health Guidelines will help you learn more about the screenings, tests and shots that you and your family need. Information in our guidelines comes from medical expert organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Talk with your doctor to make sure your family’s medical checkups and shots are up to date.

To find out if a shot, test or screening is covered under your health plan, you can check your benefits online by signing in to your account or calling Customer Service at the phone number on the back of your member ID card.