According to the World Health Organization (WHO), age 65 years and older is denoted as old age. During this stage, the cells in the human body gradually and progressively deteriorate every single day. Those who are now considered elderly were once younger. As time passes, the wear and tear of everyday life on the body and organs gradually changes all the systems in our bodies. It’s important, therefore, that health checkups for the elderly do not consists only of a blood test and/or a basic physical examination.
Considering the age factor, senior citizens are required to take a comprehensive health assessment first before further laboratory tests can be carried out. This assessment is divided into 4 main aspects:
Thorough Health History Assessment from Head to Toe
This is not just the basic, general questions. Instead, a full history of their health, from head to toe, must be considered. In addition to questions about any abnormalities or disorders of various systems in the body, there will also be more detailed questions about daily routines, lifestyle, transportation to and from the hospital, and who their primary caregivers are.
A physical examination for seniors focuses on 3 major organ systems:
Disease Screening for Older Adults
Blood tests for basic health, cholesterol and sugar levels, kidney and liver health, as well as complete blood cell count are still important for senior’s health evaluations. However, we recommended additional tests, that are thyroid hormone levels, serum Vitamin B12 and folate level. Serum VDRL level may be considered in some seniors with impaired cognitive function.
Screening test for osteoporosis is usually also overlooked. Women aged 65 and above and men aged 70 and above should receive a bone density test in order to determine whether their bones are starting to thin or lessen in density so that treatment can be carried out, and fractures prevented.
Cancer screening tests are another important part. The recommended cancer screening includes colon cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer and lung cancer (only for those who have a history of chronic smoking).
Other additional tests such as an electrocardiogram, chest x-ray, or treadmill test may also be considered if needed and/or appropriate for the patients, so that we can promptly detect and correct those abnormalities.
When it comes to screening for senior citizens, this should be done in consultation with the patient’s primary physician or with a specialist so that tests can be decided in detail, based on each individual, in order to attain the best possible health and performance for the person.
Annual health checkups are necessary for everyone, particularly for seniors, whose bodies have been functioning for over a long period of time, as it is natural that there will be degeneration throughout various body systems.
“Certain ailments and illnesses may not be avoidable, but, at the very least, they can be slowed down and the effects they may have on our lives can be minimized to the greatest degree possible.”
Diplomate of the Thai Board of Internal Medicine , 2012