Getting older doesn’t just mean getting wiser.
Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but getting older can, unfortunately, also mean getting sicker.
Not to sound like a negative-Nancy, but with age can come a wide variety of illness, ailments, and potential injuries that our younger selves may not have been as susceptible to, especially for us women. Yay.
While there are certain things that truly cannot be controlled, avoided, etc., you can still avoid some potential problems, and catch the unavoidable ones before they become to serious, by keeping up to date with your medical exams.
Catching a medical problem early on really can make all the difference in the outcome – so take a look below at some of the most important medical tests for women over the age of 40.
Of course it’s good to do your own breast exams regularly at home, but this is not a fully effective way to catch something that may be out of the ordinary.
Once women reach their 40’s, especially into their mid 40’s, it is highly recommended to begin going for regular mammogram screens – every 1 to 2 years to be specific.
PAP Smear/Pelvic Exam
We know, we know. No one likes going for a PAP. They’re awkward and uncomfortable and we’d just really rather not.
But they’re important, yes, even for you older ladies.
Cervical cancer, which is what is tested for during a PAP, is actually most frequently diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and 44. Most women don’t realize the importance of getting tested as they age – but the risk is still very much present.
Colonoscopy’s are important, as they are the most reliable way to screen for colon cancer, but are not something that needs to be done every year, or even every few years, thankfully.
Once you reach your 40’s, it is recommended to have a colonoscopy done ever 10 or so years (perhaps more if you have certain risk factors such as family history).
High cholesterol is, unfortunately, extremely common amongst older aged Americans, and this can be a serious problem.
High cholesterol can lead to heart attacks or strokes, which, if not deadly, can still be life altering.
When going for your regular check-up, be sure to have a blood test done to check your cholesterol levels and take appropriate measures to ensure healthy levels if need be.
Blood Pressure Tests
As we age, it is rather common for our blood pressure to rise. Don’t be too surprised, and don’t be too worried. You can help keep your blood pressure at a healthy level through proper diet, keeping active, and with certain medications, if need be.
Have your blood pressure checked regularly to ensure you are doing enough to keep it at a healthy, normal level.
Blood Sugar/Diabetes Tests
40+ years of eating sugary, fatty foods may have been enjoyable for your taste buds, but the same cannot be said for your pancreas. Of course if you have kept a natural, balanced diet, you are at less of a risk of developing diabetes, but it is still important to get checked.
We all love being outside and enjoying the sunshine during the summer or while on vacation (not the mention the beautiful bronze, sun-kissed look we get to enjoy for weeks or months afterwards), but that doesn’t necessarily mean that our skin likes the sun as much as we do.
The risk of Melanoma (skin cancer) increases as people age.
While it’s important to do your own skin checks at home, to try and catch anything out of the ordinary, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll catch everything. You should have your doctor conduct a skin exam, let’s say annually, to ensure that anything concerning is caught early on.
It’s not news that our eyesight may start to go, as we get older. One minute we’ll need a simple pair of reading glasses, and the next we’re blind as a bat. It happens.
It’s important to have regular eye exams done, not only to ensure we are wearing the proper prescriptions, if needed, but also because as we age, there are a number of other issues that may arise with our eyesight, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration or retinal disease, for example.
STD checks aren’t just for young, promiscuous college kids.
If you are single and having casual partners, are in an open relationship, or suspect that your partner may have other partners that you do not know about, get checked, regardless of how old you are.
Mental Health Assessment
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
Anyone, of any age, should treat their mental health as such, but for aging women it can be extra important.
As we age, there are a number of factors that can lead to increased chances of depression, anxiety, etc., such as hormonal changes leading up to menopause or life events such as children leaving home or divorce, for example.
As you can see, aging isn’t always as glamourous as Hollywood may make it seem. (Because let’s be honest, if we were to base our expectations solely on watching how Jennifer Aniston or J-Lo are aging, we’d be in for a rude awakening).
However, by having regular check-ups and tests done and discussing any concerns you may have with your doctor, you can at least stay one step ahead of any potential problems that age may bring.