“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”
– Madeleine L’Engle
Growing older is decorated with years of life experience and amazing memories but it also comes with changes to our bodies. Maintaining good health to keep you feeling vital is important and one of the main reasons the Abraham Family & Geriatric Medicine team devotes part of its practice to focusing on providing the best possible care for geriatric patients. We believe in prevention and ongoing maintenance because every patient deserves to live life to the fullest! Annual exams are important for everyone in the family, but geriatric assessments are vital for us as we age to make sure that we’re keeping ourselves in good health despite many internal and external changes that occur as we age. Let’s take a look at some of the geriatric assessments for men and women over the age of 60 and why you should make a conscious effort to have them performed each and every year.
As we grow older, the physical changes don’t just occur on the surface of the skin. Of course wrinkles and sagging skin are daily reminders, but important changes can also occur internally. While these changes aren’t always causes for concern, it’s better to participate in routine screenings to improve an overall healthy lifestyle. Each geriatric patient ages differently but a few of the most common changes one may experience can include (note this isn’t a comprehensive list):
- Bones, joints & muscles – bone density decreases and the muscles themselves become smaller and weaker in mass. This can make a person more susceptible to fractures, or breaks, or suffer from joint/muscle tears.
- Mobility & balance – fall prevention is something geriatric patients should be mindful of. The weakening of bones, joints and muscles can contribute to balance issues that can lead to falls and possible damage to a patient’s body.
- Body frame – growing older can mean growing shorter thanks to changes within the bones. Add a much slower metabolism and fat accumulation can make it difficult for older patients to maintain body weight that is optimal for their frame.
- Hormones – often geriatric patients are at higher risk of developing diabetes due to changes to hormonal control of blood sugar and carbohydrate metabolism. Thyroid dysfunction, calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies, and sexual dysfunction can also be a concern for mature patients.
- Memory – not all minor memory lapses are cause for concern; it doesn’t mean that you automatically have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Normal aging includes problems with memory loss among seniors, but it’s also common for us all – where’d we put that wallet?
- Immune system – the white blood cells responsible for fighting off infections become weaker and can prove difficult in helping older patients maintain a strong immunity, leaving them more susceptible to sicknesses.
The United States Prevention Task Force (USPSTF) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have created recommended routine medical tests for seniors to keep them healthy, happy and safe. Some of these recommended exams you may receive can include:
- Blood pressure & diabetes screening
- Weight, thyroid & cholesterol screening
- Vaccinations (influenza, pneumonia, shingles, flu, etc.
- Osteoporosis screening
- Colon cancer screening
- Female-only exams (bone density scans, breast cancer screening, pelvic screenings & pap smears)
- Male-only exams (prostate cancer screening, rectal exams & PSA (Prostate-specific antigen) screening
These are just a few key assessments we find are necessary for helping our senior community live better, healthier lives as they continue to mature and thrive. Additional screenings may be recommended based on your unique health needs but our team of experiences professionals is dedicated to your personal geriatric care. To learn more about the available geriatric services at Abraham Family & Geriatric Medicine, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Your health is important; it’s important to us so we can’t stress enough the benefits of not waiting until you’re not feeling well to take charge of staying healthy!