Some people are daunted by the thought of turning 50, but don’t let the number intimidate you. Instead, take stock of all you have accomplished and know that you still have many years ahead of you – in most cases, several decades! At the same time, you have probably noticed that you aren’t quite as energetic as you used to be.
That decrease in energy that you feel is a natural part of aging. Your steps are a bit slower, and healing up from an injury takes a little longer. Your body has gone through a lot, and you can begin to feel the effects of an active life.
Turning 50 can seem like turning a corner, and it is an important milestone. But when you keep it in perspective, you can consider it an excellent time to make a few lifestyle changes to ensure your future is bright, healthy, and full of good times. A crucial first step is to take stock of your health.
Annual check-ups with your doctor are more important than ever. At these checkups, your doctor may suggest some regular screenings to assess various health conditions, particularly if there are specific health problems in your family history.
Being Proactive About Your Health As You Age
Screening tests are an opportunity to detect and address potential health issues early on. Almost universally, the earlier you detect health problems, the better your outcomes will be. You will have more time to thoughtfully consider your treatment options, and you can often prevent more serious conditions from developing.
Your doctor’s screening recommendations will be based on your health profile, but age is one of the most relevant factors when it comes to health problems, so screenings are likely to become part of your annual checkup routine. Below are some of the most common screening tests:
- Colon Cancer Screening: This form of cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., and the risk increases with age. The preferred screening method is usually a colonoscopy, although alternatives are available.
- Weight Monitoring: Most people experience weight gain in their 50s. This is often due to being less active and may also be because your hormonal system is not functioning at its peak. If excess weight becomes a problem, talk with your healthcare provider about things you can do to control and maintain a healthy weight.
- Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is a common problem as you get older, and it can have devastating effects on your heart, brain, eyes, and kidneys. Regular blood pressure checks can identify hypertension early.
- Cholesterol Profile: Monitoring your cholesterol levels is vital if you are at risk for heart disease. Your doctor will recommend how often you should have a cholesterol check.
- Blood Sugar: Diabetes can lead to serious health complications, including heart disease and blindness. A fasting blood sugar test or diabetes screening helps your doctor to detect and manage diabetes or prediabetes.
- Skin Examination: Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. If you notice any unusual moles or spots, consult your doctor for further evaluation.
- Eye Examinations: As you age, your risk of vision-related diseases increases. Eye exams are important, particularly if you have pre-existing eye conditions or risk factors.
- Depression Screening: Depression is often overlooked in older adults. Your doctor can assess whether a mental health issue is a result of physiological conditions, such as chemical or hormonal imbalances.
- Immunizations: Your doctor will recommend which immunizations may be appropriate for you.
- Pelvic Exam and Pap Smear: Regular pelvic exams and Pap smears can detect cervical abnormalities and prevent or detect cervical cancer.
- Mammogram: Routine mammograms can detect potential signs of breast cancer early.
- Prostate Cancer Screening: Prostate cancer is very common, and outcomes are significantly better when caught early. A simple blood test can indicate whether further tests are needed to confirm prostate cancer.
In addition to these standard screening tests, your doctor may have other recommendations based on family history; some of these tests may already be part of your regular healthcare routine. But don’t be surprised if your healthcare providers add a few more tests: they are only looking out for your health! Proactive healthcare can be lifesaving.
At Northwest Specialty Hospital, our family healthcare specialists provide services for people of all ages. If you have recently turned 50 and it has been a while since your last physical, schedule an appointment at Northwest Specialty Hospital to discuss any particular health concerns you have and find out whether you should undergo any health screenings. By being attentive to your health, you can enjoy this phase of life to the fullest and ensure a healthier and happier future.