Getting regular medical care is an important part of healthy aging. Depending
on your age and gender, the tests and services performed at an annual
checkup will vary, but routine exams by your primary care physician is
recommended even if you are healthy.
According to Dr. Michael Burton of
Catawba Valley Family Medicine – Medical Arts, these visits include a number of tests and observations to help screen
for diseases, determine potential health risks and encourage longer, healthier living.
“A wide range of screening and preventive measures are available
and recommended for people over the age of 65,” said Dr. Burton.
“It’s important to talk to your doctor about the frequency
of certain tests – not all have to be performed every year.”
In addition to taking initial measurements including weight, blood pressure,
heart rate, and temperature, your doctor will ask about any health problems
you may be experiencing. Typical yearly physicals include a heart and
lung exam by stethoscope, head and neck exams, abdominal exams, reflex
test, skin exam, and an examination of the arms, legs and joints. To better
assess a patient’s risks and fully understand the patient’s
current health situation, a doctor will take a medical history. This process
includes a series of questions about what, if any, problems the patient
has been experiencing, what diseases are common in the family, and if
a patient smokes, drinks excessively, or has allergies, among other questions. The
National Institute of Health (NIH) has a number of excellent tools for preparing for an annual physical exam.
Gender Specific Testing
Women may be given a breast exam and pelvic exam to check for signs of
cancer. Men may be given a testicular exam, penis and prostate exam and
be tested for hernias.
- You may or may not have laboratory testing during a routine physical, depending
on your potential risk factors. These tests can include drawing blood
for complete blood count or a chemistry panel, or it may require a urine
sample for analysis.
The following is a
list of important preventive screening measures for seniors according to the NIH. These are general health maintenance
guidelines, primary care doctors may recommend an individualized plan
for each person based on their personal history.
- Influenza vaccination
- Pneumonia vaccination
- Vaccination against shingles (60 and older; although some doctors recommend
starting at age 50)
- Colon cancer screening for adults between ages 50 and 75 (younger starting
age in high risk groups)
- Breast cancer screening with yearly mammogram for females between 40 and
75 (younger starting age for high risk groups)
- Prostate cancer screening with annual rectal exam and PSA (prostate sensitive
antigen) in males above age 50
- Osteoporosis screening with bone density scan in women above age of 65
- Lipid disorder screening yearly for men above 35 and women above 45
- Diabetes screening in people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol,
obesity, or previous high blood sugar levels with or without symptoms
- Blood pressure screening at least once a year
- Smoking cessation counseling
Other screening tests often recommended by doctors are: vision and hearing
exams; skin cancer screening; cardiac stress tests; thyroid function tests;
mental status exam and peripheral vascular disease screening.
Eating healthy and getting regular exercise may lower your risk for many
of the more prominent diseases and conditions in your elder years, but
by educating yourself and remaining engaged with your family doctor, you
can improve your chances of remaining healthy.
Finding a physician and a practice that are just right for you and your
family can be difficult, but you can make it simpler by choosing one of
the providers at the
Catawba Valley Family Medicine – Medical Arts practice located conveniently in downtown Hickory. Our providers Dr. Michael
Burton, Dr. Robert Glenn, Dr. Baxter Leonard, Dr. Scott Polster and Dr.
Trina Tridico welcome you to their family medicine practice. This practice
manages acute and chronic illnesses, treats acute injuries, performs minor
office surgeries and, when necessary, refers you to an appropriate specialist.
Just think of your family medicine physician as your first line of defense
in guarding your most valuable possession of all: your health. Located at 24 2nd Avenue NE • Hickory, NC 2860, the practice is now scheduling new
patients at 828.328.223.