It’s not a secret that regular doctor’s visits and regular screenings are a key part of caring for your health. These appointments are what allow you and your doctor to carry out any needed preventative care, as well as to track any potential developing health issues, so that you can live as healthy a life as possible. But are you sure that you’re visiting your doctor as often as you should?
The frequency at which you’ll need to visit a doctor and undergo various screenings - also known as health maintenance - doesn’t just depend on whether or not you’re living with an existing health condition of some sort. Your age is also a big factor in determining how often you see a doctor, undergo testing, or receive booster shots. This is because even if you have a healthy medical history overall, aging increases our chances of developing a number of health issues, especially when combined with any of the other negative health-related factors that may be present in our lives. Regular health maintenance visits, however, allow health professionals to look for signs of trouble on a regular basis. By checking the overall state of your health at scheduled intervals, and by regularly receiving exams and booster shots, you can help prevent small or even potential issues from growing into larger health problems, allowing you to live a healthier, longer life.
To help ensure that you’re working to prevent future problems and that your doctor can help you catch potential age-related issues as you age, even very healthy people with no history of medical problems are advised to at least adhere to the basic health maintenance recommendations that have been laid out by the medical community.The following are the guidelines that we recommend for all of Genesis Medical’s patients and members*:
*To be clear, your doctor’s advice always takes priority over these guidelines. Therefore, if your doctor wants you to visit with them more often or undergo certain screenings more frequently, it’s in your best interest to follow their advice rather than these generalized guidelines.
If You Are 18 - 29 Years Old: If you’re in this age group, chances are that you won’t need to do much in terms of health maintenance beyond following the minimum recommendations that have been laid out for young adults; and because people are generally very health at your age, there are relatively few guidelines for people in this age group. Currently, recommendations are that you complete a physical exam every 2 years; a cholesterol blood test every 5 years; and diphtheria and tetanus boosters every 10 years. Women of these ages should also undergo a clinical breast exam every 3-5 years, and a PAP/pelvic exam every 1-3 years.
If You Are 30 - 39 Years Old: Unless noted otherwise by your doctor, you probably won’t need to change your doctor’s appointment routine very much during your 30s. It’s recommended that adults in their 30s continue to undergo physical exams and cholesterol blood tests, and receive booster shots, at the same rate that they did in their 20s. The only changes in national guidelines for this age group are for women, who should undergo a clinical breast exam every 1-3 years, and a PAP/pelvic exam every 1-3 years.
If You Are 40 - 49 Years Old: Though there is a chance that you’ll be asked to see a doctor more frequently as you enter your 40s due to your family history or a developing health problem, the basic national recommendations for annual exams, cholesterol blood tests and booster shots don’t change for this age group. Women, however, are strongly advised to at least complete a clinical breast exam every year, to undergo a PAP/pelvic exam every 1-3 years, and to get a mammogram every 1-2 years.
If You Are 50 - 59 Years Old: Once you enter your 50s, it’s recommended that you add a couple tests to your regular health screening checklist. Though the minimum national recommendations for annual exams, cholesterol blood tests and booster shots do not change for this age group, adults in their 50s are advised to undergo stool exams annually and to receive a colonoscopy every 5-10 years to monitor for colon cancer. Older adults are also advised to get a flu vaccine annually, as our immune systems tend to weaken as we age. Women in their 50s are also advised to continue to receive annual breast exams, PAP/pelvic exams every 1-3 years, and to schedule annual mammograms.
If Your Are 60+ Years Old: While you’re likely to have specific instructions from your doctors at this age based on your individual needs, there are several national guidelines that you should also keep in mind, particularly regarding immunizations. At this age, you should at least complete a physical exam every 1-2 years; take an annual stool test and get a colonoscopy every 5-10 years; go in for a cholesterol test every 5 years; get an influenza vaccine annually; get a pneumococcal vaccine once after age 65; and get a diphtheria and tetanus booster every 10 years. Women are also strongly advised to continue to get an annual breast exam; a PAP/pelvic exam every 1-3 years; and an annual mammogram.
Adhering to these health maintenance recommendations can go a long way in helping to monitor your health throughout your lifetime. It is, however, important to remember that these recommendations are the minimum recommendations for healthy individuals. Pesonalized medical advice that you've received from a doctor always takes priority over these guidelines. And if you ever feel that additional visits and tests would help you live a healthier life, we encourage you to speak to your doctor to see what they recommend for you. Our doctors are always glad to speak with you, as our #1 goal is always to ensure that you’re receiving the best possible care based on your needs.
*Image courtesy of commons.wikipedia.org