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Routine Checkup, Over 65: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Physical examinations can help you stay healthy. Your doctor has checked your overall health and may have suggested ways to take good care of yourself. He or she also may have recommended tests. At home, you can help prevent illness with healthy eating, regular exercise, and other steps.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Reach and stay at a healthy weight. This will lower your risk for many problems, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
  • Try to do moderate to vigorous activity 2½ hours a week. Walking is a good choice. You also may want to do other activities, such as running, swimming, cycling, or playing tennis or team sports.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can make health problems worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Protect your skin from too much sun. Stay in the shade or cover up with a wide-brimmed hat and tightly-woven clothing when outdoors from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wear UV-blocking sunglasses. Put broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) on any exposed skin, even when it's cloudy.
  • See a dentist one or two times a year for checkups and to have your teeth cleaned.
  • Wear a seat belt in the car.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. That means for:
    • Men: no more than 3 drinks a day and no more than 15 drinks a week.
    • Women: no more than 2 drinks a day and no more than 10 drinks a week.

Follow your doctor's advice about when to have certain tests. These tests can spot problems early.

For men and women

  • Cholesterol. Your doctor will tell you how often to have this done based on your overall health and other things that can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Blood pressure. Have your blood pressure checked during a routine doctor visit. Your doctor will tell you how often to check your blood pressure based on your age, your blood pressure results, and other factors.
  • Diabetes. Ask your doctor whether you should have tests for diabetes.
  • Vision. Talk with your doctor about having yearly examinations for glaucoma and other age-related eye problems.
  • Hearing. Tell your doctor if you notice any change in your hearing. You can have tests to find out how well you hear.
  • Colon cancer tests. Keep having colon cancer tests as your doctor recommends.
  • Heart attack and stroke. Every 1 to 3 years, you should have your risk for heart attack and stroke assessed. Your doctor uses factors such as your age, blood pressure, cholesterol, and whether you smoke or have diabetes to show what your risk for a heart attack or stroke is over the next 10 years.
  • Osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor about having a bone density test to find out whether you have thinning bones. Osteoporosis Canada recommends that all women and men age 65 and older routinely have a bone density test to test for osteoporosis. Also ask your doctor if you need to take a calcium plus vitamin D supplement. You may be able to get enough calcium, and vitamin D through diet.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm. Ask your doctor whether you should have a test to check for an aneurysm. Experts recommend that all men age 65 to 75 be screened. Some experts recommend that women older than 65 who have any combination of a history of smoking, cerebrovascular disease, or a family history of aortic aneurysm be screened.

For women

  • Pap test and pelvic examination. You may no longer need a Pap test. Talk with your doctor about whether to stop or continue to have Pap tests.
  • Breast examination and mammogram. Ask how often you should have a mammogram, which is an X-ray of your breasts. A mammogram can spot breast cancer before it can be felt and when it is easiest to treat.
  • Thyroid disease. Some doctors recommend that you have thyroid screening if you have a personal or family history of thyroid problems or other autoimmune diseases. Talk to your doctor about whether to have your thyroid checked as part of a regular physical examination. Women have an increased chance of a thyroid problem.

For men

  • Prostate examination. Talk to your doctor about whether you should have a blood test (called a PSA test) for prostate cancer. Experts recommend that you discuss the benefits and risks of the test with your doctor before you decide whether to have this test. Some experts say that men over age 70 do not need testing.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm. Ask your doctor whether you should have a test to check for an aneurysm. The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care recommends one time screening for men ages 65 to 80.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems or symptoms that concern you.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.