As your body ages, many gradual changes are happening. Some are obvious, but others can go unnoticed. Let’s face it, things wear out. Your car experiences wear-and-tear from its miles on the road. At around 50,000 miles, a car should be given a full diagnostic to look for age-related problems. At around 50 years, your body could use its own “50+ Checkup.” Here’s a printable checklist to give your aging body the attention it deserves as you pass the 50-year mark.
Schedule a Colonoscopy
The idea of a colon exam makes many people uncomfortable. But by the time you reach 50 years, the risk of colon cancer rises. Early detection can save your life. If you haven’t had one yet, don’t be squeamish… now is the time.
Have Your Skin Examined
As you age, those brown spots on your skin are more likely to undergo dangerous changes. Have a dermatologist look for anything suspicious. Skin cancer (melanoma) is more likely later in life but can be cured when caught in its early stages. At 50 and beyond, don’t take chances with this deadly disease.
Ask for Extra Blood Work
You’ve probably had this done. But as you age, there are some blood tests that deserve a closer look. Your pituitary and thyroids glands regulate many important body functions by secreting certain hormones. With age, these hormones can get out of balance causing many unexplained changes in your body. This is especially true for post-menopausal women, but also not uncommon in men. Ask your doctor about checking your thyroid hormones (T4/T3, PTH, TSH).
Request an Electrocardiogram
By the time you’re 50, the heart loses some of its ability to fill and pump blood. This is normal, but sometimes it can result in an arrhythmia where the heart beats in an abnormal pattern. An ECG (also called an EKG) is a simple and quick way for a doctor to detect early signs of a developing problem. An ECG is also a good way to confirm that your exercise program is age-appropriate.
See an Ophthalmologist
Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that can lead to blindness. Over half of people with early glaucoma are unaware that they have the disease. Since your risk increases with age consider an eye exam as part of your 50+ checkup.
Get a Bone Scan (Women) or Prostate Exam (Men)
After menopause, there is often a steep drop in bone mass. A bone mineral density test (BMD or DXA) will check to see if you are at risk for osteoporosis. For men, the prostate gland will enlarge with age. Make sure your doctor performs a simple digital rectal exam (DRE) and runs annual blood tests to track PSA.
Graphic by Jessica Namdar