Most seniors have been taking health precautions these days. Handwashing, wearing a mask when advised to do so, and practicing social distancing help protect us from exposure to COVID-19.
But this is no time to lose sight of our overall health. Healthcare providers report that many patients are failing to come in for preventative care. This could put them at risk for a host of health conditions-including more serious effects from COVID-19.
Today, most healthcare facilities are ready and prepared to provide routine care. They’re following safety precautions, taking temperature checks, routinely disinfecting common areas, distancing patients from one another, and requiring masks for patients and staff. Some are using telehealth when an in-person visit isn’t necessary. Here are preventative steps you should not skip:
Vaccines protect us from harmful diseases throughout life – and older adults are often at a higher risk of contracting these diseases and
suffering serious complications from them.
Immunizations currently recommended for most older adults include:
Annual flu vaccine
Pneumonia (pneumococcal disease)
Some of us with certain health problems, immunization histories and lifestyles may need additional vaccines. This might include the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) shot, vaccinations for hepatitis A or hepatitis B, and for meningo-coccal disease. Those planning foreign travel might need other shots. Talk to your doctor well in advance of your trip.
Screenings are tests’ your doctor performs to check
for hidden medical conditions. Some require a physical procedure, while others are done with an interview. Don’t think of screenings as a test you need to pass. Instead, consider them as empowering information to help you protect your health. Your doctor might recommend screenings for:
High Blood Pressure (HBP). The doctor checks your blood pressure with a special cuff that is placed around your upper arm, inflated and then deflated.
Early detection of HBP helps prevent heart disease, stroke, kidney problems and more.
Cholesterol. A lipid panel is a simple blood test that measures blood fats, and can tell you if you need to take steps to lower your cholesterol. This can protect your heart and even your brain.
Diabetes. A simple blood test can detect elevated blood sugar that indicates a person has diabetes, or prediabetes - elevated blood sugar that can progress to diabetes.
Cancer. Several types of screenings can detect cancers at an early, more treatable stage. These include screenings for:
Colorectal cancer - A colonoscopy lets the doctor check for cancers in the large intestine.
Prostate cancer – A physical exam or blood test is recommended for men over fifty.
Breast cancer – Regular mammograms are recommended for women in late middle age, until the age when her doctor says it is no longer necessary.
Skin cancer -The doctor examines the patient’s skin to look for changes in moles or other skin anomalies.
Lung cancer – Depending on a person’s smoking history and age, a special X-ray of the lungs may be recommended.
Osteoporosis. A short, painless procedure called a bone density scan determines a person’s bone mass and whether treatment is advised to slow bone loss.
Vision problems. A dilated eye exam can reveal sight-robbing conditions that are often treatable, such as glaucoma, age-related macular degen- eration and diabetic eye disease.
Your healthcare team may also recommend screenings for hearing loss, memory problems and depression. They may test for tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis as well. Oral health screenings are also important.
The next step
Once your doctor has your test results, they will share the information with you. They will recommend steps to take to manage any health problems detected. Most likely, the doctor will also recommend lifestyle changes that have a powerful preventative effect: getting enough exercise, eating a healthy diet, controlling stress and staying mentally active.
People with Medicare qualify for an annual wellness visit. Be sure to make this appointment! This is a great time to ask about things that concern you and about recommended health screenings and immunizations. Most of these screenings and shots are free, but ask ahead of time.
In-home care supports
overall senior wellness
Right at Home’s professional in-home caregivers support the well-being of senior clients in so many ways. Our caregivers work with the family and healthcare providers to coordinate healthcare appointments, provide transportation and accompany clients to appointments, encourage clients to follow the doctor’s recommendations about diet, exercise and taking medications, and many other beneficial services. These days and always, in-home care is a powerful resource for senior wellness.
The information in this article is not meant to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Contact your doctor’s office about the screenings and immunizations that are right for you, and about how you can receive healthcare safely at this time.
About Right at Home of Longwood/Lake MaryThe Longwood/Lake Mary office of Right at Home is a locally owned and operated franchise office of Right at Home, LLC, serving communities throughout Seminole and Orange counties. For further information please contact Right at Home of Longwood/Lake Mary at http://www.cflhomecare.com, call 321.295.7849, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.