As you age, your physical, mental, and emotional health needs change. Since prevention is the best medicine, having regular check-ups and undergoing age-specific screenings is key to protecting your health.
Taking the COVID-19 vaccine is the most important way to prevent illness right now. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risks of severe illness, hospitalization and death increases with age. In fact, eight out of 10 COVID-19 deaths reported in the United States have occurred among adults 65 years and older. Yet, such adults who received both doses of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines showed a 94% reduced risk of COVID-19 related hospitalization, the CDC reports. With the Delta variant fueling a surge in cases, vaccination--and masking if you’re unvaccinated--are more urgent than ever.
Even if you’re fully vaccinated, the CDC urges you to continue wearing a mask in certain indoor settings, social distancing, and washing your hands thoroughly to help slow the spread of the virus. If you’re unvaccinated, then you should get vaccinated as soon as possible and continue masking until then. It is also important to get the flu shot in addition to the COVID-19 vaccine (at least 14 days apart).
Preventative health screenings will also help you stay healthy as you age. If you’re a woman in your twenties or thirties, this includes annual screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, and for cervical cancer. If you’re a man in this age range, then you should be having general health check-ups, as well as blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes screenings, if you have risk factors for the disease such as family history or high blood pressure.
In your 40s and 50s, whether you are female or male, you should begin annual checks for colorectal cancer, and lung cancer if you are a current or former smoker. As a 40-year-old woman, you should begin having annual mammograms, while at age 50, you should begin bone density screening to check for osteoporosis. If you’re male and aged 50, then you should begin screening for prostate cancer, and having bone density screening starting at age 60 and older.
In addition to regular health screenings, keeping up with vaccinations for shingles, pneumonia, flu, and tetanus diphtheria will also help to keep you healthy. To learn more about how to stay healthy as you age, please visit weillcornell.org/doctors or schedule an appointment with your primary care provider through Connect.