As you age, the topics you discuss with your family doctor might need to change. In addition to addressing new or worsening symptoms or chronic disease, you should also discuss topics that are particularly relevant to seniors.
Vaccinations are an important part of preventing common illness that can be life-threatening as you age. You should receive your annual flu shot since your age group is a higher risk for complications if you develop the flu. If you have any chronic diseases, your personal risk may be higher because of a weakened immune system. Also ask your doctor about any vaccination boosters you need, such a tetanus, or whether you should receive a vaccination against meningitis, especially if you live in a residential facility. Another common vaccination, especially for older adults, is one for pneumonia. Since pneumonia is especially prevalent in seniors, it is frequently encouraged.
You should have regular vision, dental, and hearing screenings, even if they are baseline assessments performed during your check-ups. Basic information can give your doctor an idea if you should be referred for evaluation by a specialist or if there are other concerns that might be indicative of more serious conditions. If you have certain chronic diseases, especially diabetes, you are more likely to develop problems with your vision and teeth. Although you should have evaluations by a dentist and optometrist at least annually, any concerns between visits should be mentioned to your doctor.
The risk for osteoporosis increases as you age, especially among women. Ask your doctor about preventative strategies to lower your risk of osteoporosis and when you should start having a bone density scan. Your doctor will likely make recommendations involving your diet and encourage you to engage in exercise. Weight-baring exercises are generally recommended to increase or preserve bone density. Additionally, you should mention any changes in gait and balance to your doctor and ask them about fall-prevention strategies. Changing the type of shoes you wear, removing area rugs, and keeping the floor free of obstructions are just a few changes you can make to reduce your risk of falls. Even if you do not have issues with walking or balance, minor falls can cause significant injuries, especially if you have diagnosed osteoporosis.
Being aware of your increased risk for certain illnesses and conditions is the first step in preventing them. Keeping your doctor abreast of any changes in your health can also help you address common ailments when they are easier to manage.
Speak with a local family practice for more help.