June is National Men’s Health Month. In light of this observance, now’s a great time to be proactive and take advantage of these crucial, highly recommended health screenings for men ages 65 and older.
If you or someone you love fits into this demographic, then please consider asking a physician about testing for any of the following all-too-common health conditions for senior men.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)
• There are over three million cases of this in the U.S. annually. This is important to get tested for, as AAAs often grow slowly without causing any symptoms over some time. However, AAA can be fatal if not detected and treated.
• Preventative measures include exercising regularly, sustaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, avoiding tobacco, and consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables. However, unfortunately people with a genetic history of AAA have an increased risk.
• Doctors recommend that men between the ages of 65 and 75, who are present (or past) smokers, get screened. This can be done via ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI.
• This is one of the most common cancers for men.
• Like most cancers, the survival rate is much higher if detected early, before the cancer spreads.
• A man’s need to be tested for this partly depends on whether or not he has a family history of prostate cancer. The risk decreases after age 70. However, it’s better to be safe and have peace of mind then to find out too late.
• The primary mode of screening is a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, which is done through taking a blood sample.
High cholesterol levels
• This is a more commonly known test that’s useful for people across a broad spectrum of ages, and men age 65 and older are no exception!
• Cholesterol levels should be checked at least every 5 years, and more than that if one has medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and/or a family history of high cholesterol.
Colorectal cancer (or simply colon cancer)
• Medical professionals recommend that men get screened for colorectal cancer by age 50.
• That said, men with a biological family history of it should be checked even sooner.
• A colonoscopy is the most common route for colorectal cancer screening.
• As one may imagine, this type of screening is most important for those of us who are either current smokers or have been in the past.
• However, it’s also possible to develop this cancer through second-hand smoke or other potentially harmful environmental factors.
• The screening process for lung cancer is usually a LDGT (low-dose computed tomography) scan.
• Millions of Americans—and people all over the world—live with diabetes.
• It’s crucial that diabetics probably manage their condition in order to live a healthy life. Both types of diabetes—1 and 2 (or in rare cases, a combination of types 1 and 2) can be manageable and very much livable!
• However, diabetes is still a serious and potentially life-threatening condition if not tended to.
• The type 2 diabetes test is a quick finger pricking screen to test one’s glucose levels.
• While most osteoporosis awareness efforts are aimed at women, this condition also affects older men.
• The screening for osteoporosis consists of a BMD (bone mineral density) scan, or Dexa-Scan (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry or DXA), a low-energy X-ray.
Hearing loss and vision problems
• Testing for hearing and vision problems is very important for anyone, but especially seniors. Even if you don’t think you have these issues, it’s always good to get a second opinion from a nurse or doctor.
• Mental health can be just as important as physical health. Mental really is physical health, as it occurs inside the brain.
• There are many different free quizzes for psychological issues online, and while those can be a useful starting point, if you haven’t been feeling like yourself lately, sometimes it’s worth it to see a counselor or psychiatrist, get their opinion, and improve your quality of life.