No matter how well you’ve taken care of yourself, once you’ve made it to 50, you need to commit to paying more attention to your health. This is the time of life when you might start to notice joint pain, skin changes, or maybe weight creep with a slowing metabolism.
It’s also the time when it’s important to get regular screenings for various conditions to make sure they don’t develop into serious health problems. The frequency of physical exams really depends on your individual health history and your doctor’s recommendations, but if you see your doctor only when you’re sick, you could be shortchanging yourself and your health.
Doctors typically recommend the following once you turn 50, according to WebMD and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Colon cancer screening. Recommended for everyone at 50, repeated once every five to 10 years, depending on the results
- Monitoring weight. As your metabolism slows, it’s easy to gain weight and that can lead to additional health problems
- Blood pressure testing. Untreated high blood pressure, or hypertension, attacks your heart, brain, eyes, and kidneys. Don’t let it sneak up on you
- Cholesterol check. Controlling cholesterol protects your heart and can add years to your life
- Monitoring blood sugar. Regular screening for diabetes can save your life. Untreated diabetes can cause everything from heart disease to blindness
- Skin check. Check your skin for unusual-looking spots or moles, and ask your doctor to check you as well. A lifetime of sun exposure can start showing damage; catching a problem at its start makes treatment more effective
- Mammogram. Women from 50 to 74 with an average breast cancer risk should have a screening mammogram every two years, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
- Monitoring eye health. The appearance of vision diseases increases with age. Doctors recommend exams every one to two years until age 60 and then yearly after that
- Dental health check. See a dentist at least once a year. Decay never takes a holiday, and research shows a link between periodontal disease and heart disease
- Current immunizations. Doctors recommend a yearly flu shot and, once every 10 years, a tetanus booster. After age 60, a shingles vaccine is recommended. Ask your doctor which other immunizations you need
By spending just a few hours now, you can put yourself in a position to enjoy many more happy birthdays in the future.