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Health Screenings 101

Be Proactive: Health Screenings 101

Everyone has heard it: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

This oft-used quote from the one-and-only Benjamin Franklin could not be truer for anyone more than seniors.

From arthritis to Alzheimer’s, Scottsdale residents need to take control of their health and wellness at the most proactive level possible. Among the most important ways to become proactive is to simply taking part in recommended health screenings.

Annual physical

Certainly, an annual exam is a must, including a blood pressure check, cholesterol screening and potentially even a diabetes screening. Ideally, this should occur each year no matter one’s age; but, for even the healthiest of individuals turning 50, this is a must-do.

Mammograms

For women, mammograms should be a given. In fact, according to Dr. Luci Chen at Arizona Breast Cancer Specialists, new screening guidelines recommend mammograms as early as age 40 for all women, even those with no history of the disease in their families. This is an update from the former age of 50 to begin such tests.

But, Dr. Chen adds that a stunning number of women often don’t begin getting regular mammograms until retirement — or after.

Prostate screenings

Prostate cancer is the most common form of non-skin cancer in America — and rampant among senior-age men. According to Dr. Gregory Maggass of Arizona Radiation Oncology Specialists, one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, with likelihood increasing with age.

“Without a doubt, the best chance for a positive outcome, including early diagnosis and less-invasive treatment, is a regular screening starting at age 50,” Dr. Maggass says. “The best bet: Getting a prostate-specific antigen as well as a digital rectal exam, which sounds bad but is much more comfortable than cancer.

Colonoscopies

“As Katie Couric has taught us, both men and women should get their first colonoscopy by age 50, and should repeat the process as doctors request, usually once every five to 10 years,” Dr. Maggass says.

Early diagnosis of colorectal cancer can ensure a 100 percent cure.

Hearing screenings

“Aside from continuous exposure to loud noise, age is the most common cause of hearing loss,” says Sherri Collins of the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. “Physicians can test for hearing loss in a general health assessment, but it is rare, making it imperative for seniors to take the initiative to be tested.”

Collins adds that advancements in technology and services in recent years have provided the ability to live a completely full and productive life if one is experiencing hearing loss — and catches it early.

Vision screenings

While these are recommended as early as age 30 and repeated about every five years, it is imperative to begin a relationship with an optometrist or ophthalmologist, as diabetes-released eye diseases as well as glaucoma and cataracts are common issues among seniors.

For more information on general health screenings, please visit cdc.gov.