One of my favorite research projects that I have followed over the years are the longitudinal studies of aging. This is not because I am necessarily getting older any faster than anyone else – but ageing is an inevitability for all of us!
The Baltimore study is a prime example and really demonstrated the relevance of undertaking preventative health at any age. When I started medical school the general concensus was that once you were an adult you stayed much the same until retirement when you were suddenly ‘old’ and things started going wrong. Life does not work that way apparently. You do not age any faster between 70 and 80 than you did between 30 and 40 or 20 and 30. What you do determines your health. What is essential at 25 for good health remains essential at 75. The following are the recommendations for staying Healthy at 50+
These are adapted from information provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; based on research findings from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
DAILY STEPS TO GOOD HEALTH
- Be tobacco free.
- Be physically active.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
SCREENING TESTS AND PREVENTIVE MEDICINE
Heart and Vascular Diseases
- Aspirin to prevent heart attack: Men at risk* — Ages 50 to 80.
- Aspirin to prevent stroke: Women at risk* — Ages 55 to 80.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Test: Once for men who have smoked — Ages 65 to 75.
- Cholesterol Screening Test: All men and women — Ages 50 and older.
- Diabetes Screening Test: Men and women — Ages 50 and older with high blood pressure.
- Breast Cancer Screening (Mammogram): All women — Ages 50 and older, every 1 to 2 years.
- Breast Cancer Preventive Medicines: Women at risk*— Ages 50 to 80.
- Cervical Cancer Screening (Pap Test): All women — Ages 50 to 65, at least every 3 years.
- Colorectal Cancer Screening Test: All men and women — Ages 50 and older.
- Osteoporosis Screening (Bone Density Scan): Women at risk* — Ages 60 to 65, and all women — Ages 65 and older.
- HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infection Screening Tests: Men and women at risk* — Ages 50 and older.
- Depression Screening: All men and women — Ages 50 and older.
- Flu Vaccine: All men and women — Ages 50 and older, annually.
- Other Vaccines: You can prevent some serious diseases, such as pneumonia, whooping cough, tetanus, and shingles, by being vaccinated. Talk with your doctor or nurse about which vaccines you need and when to get them.
The best time to undertake preventative programs is NOW.