Health Screenings You Need to Stay Healthy as You Age
"Depending on how well you take care of yourself, 50 may be the new 30."
Aging is a part of life, but it doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel and just let nature take its course. Life certainly does not end when you’re over 50, and for many people, it’s just the beginning.
However, after you turn 50 you are at greater risk for certain health issues. This means you really need to stay on top of your health — but what does that really mean? What health screenings do you need? In today's post, Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD, will share tips to help make sure your next 50 years are even better than your first 50!
- 2:09: Fear and Health Screenings
- 5:17: How do we best get over our fears of going to the doctor?
- 6:42: Most Popular Health Screenings
- 9:47: Screenings once you turn 50
- 11:16: Colon Cancer Screening
- 13:23: Breast Cancer Screening
- 14:36: Prostate Cancer Screening
- 16:49: Dermatologist visits
- 17:59: Ophthalmologist visits
- 18:58: Annual Physical Checks
- 22:45: Closely monitor your blood sugar
- 25:41: Weight Gain
- 27:10: Reasons for weight gain at 50
- 29:25: What do you do to stay active once you’re 50?
- 35:37: Wrap Up
Fear and Health Screenings
The number one reason why many people shy away from going to see a doctor is because they can’t afford it. A close second reason is fear of the diagnosis. This can be fear of bad news, or even good news, or just fear of the unknown. Our bodies can be setting off a lot of different red flags and alarms but our fear of what it might mean could make us hesitant to address it. Fear can be crippling and it comes in all shapes and forms. Being fearful of good news, for instance, is an actual phobia known as euphobia. It is a repulsion to happiness. There is even a fear of phobias which is referred to as phobiaphobia.
How do we best get over our fears of going to the doctor?
This question has multiple answers. First, we can admit that we are afraid and come to terms with it. Actually, 40% of people have this fear of a diagnosis, which is okay. It’s common to be afraid of what you might hear, but your doctor or healthcare provider should be there to help keep you healthy. Don’t keep this fear to yourself. Bring a friend or a spouse during your visit to the doctor. You can also try behavioral therapy sessions that will help you release any kind of anxiety at least for the short-term and then into the long-term.
Most Popular Health Screenings
If you are between the ages of 18 and 65 years, the most popular health screenings include:
Depending on how well you take care of yourself, 50 may be the new 30. There are a few things that you can do to make sure that you stay 50 years young, even as you get older and wiser. If you have not seen a doctor for a while, then maybe it’s time for your checkup. You might notice that your body is starting to look or feel a little bit different. You might wake up to new aches and pains you didn't experience before. Maybe it takes just a little bit longer to recover after any physical activity.
Screenings once you turn 50
Of the many changes you experience after turning 50, one of the most significant is increased risk of developing certain serious health issues. This means once you reach your 50s you really need to stay on top of your health. You can do this by working with your healthcare professional or your doctor to make sure that you get regular screenings. This will ensure that you are aware and help in addressing any potential health concerns. These screenings include:
This is really important and one of the most essential screenings. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States (in normal years). What’s really shocking is that about 75% of all new cases of colorectal cancer occur in individuals with no known risk factors for disease other than being 50 or older. If detected early, the disease is treatable, with much better odds of making a full recovery. Colon cancer is a tricky one because there are no sensor receptors in our colons. A lot of times the issue is able to advance untreated because we have no idea that it is forming in our bodies. This is why you might be told by your doctor, friends, and family that you need to get a colonoscopy. If you have a family history of colon cancer, it's even more important to be proactive about screening.
Breast Cancer Screening
This one is absolutely essential for women. Apart from self examining, women typically begin getting screened for breast cancers via mammograms, thermograph, sonograms, MRIs, and similar methods when they turn 35 or 40 years old. Once they turn 55, they switch to bi-annual screening. This is a reminder that you need to stay on top of these breast cancer screenings. Proactive breast cancer screening saves multiple lives every year.
This one is essential for gentlemen. You have to get your prostate checked. Prostate cancer is very preventable if you get it checked regularly. It mainly affects men over the age of 50 and your risk continues to increase as you get older. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer and cancer deaths in men. However, with early detection, the five year survival rate for most men with local or regional prostate cancer is nearly 100%.
Your doctor will perform a physical prostate exam annually and then between the ages of 50 and 59 you should have your Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels initially checked with a blood test. If the PSA levels are 3 ng/mL or higher, then talk to your doctor about having a biopsy done. If the PSA level is between 1 and 3 ng/mL, then try to see your doctor for another PSA test for every two to four years. If the PSA level is less than 1 ng/mL see your doctor for another PSA test at age 60.
Staying current on your cancer screenings once you hit the big 50 is essential. However, these are not the only screenings to pay attention to. You also need to make a point to schedule regular annual visits to your skin doctor or your dermatologist. Check your skin, visible moles, and any changes in the coloration or different sizes of skin tags or moles around your body, especially on the head, as you age.
Most skin health issues found in later years occur as a result of damage done when you’re younger. Once you turn 50, you might start to notice more age spots. Make sure you see your dermatologist for annual mole patrol to catch any potential issues as soon as possible.
It’s also important to see your eye doctor, or ophthalmologist, because of glaucoma and other eye issues. All of the changes in your eyes are also very prevalent as we age. Conditions like vision loss, chronic dry eyes, and cataracts can develop as you age and specifically once you turn 50. Other serious and more common conditions that can increase with age include glaucoma, and macular degeneration. Catching these conditions early is super important.
You also need to make a point to get through your annual physical checkup, especially after you turn 50. This provides very important information that is measurable and quantifiable so that your doctor can develop a baseline. When women get their mammograms, thermographs, and sonograms, this helps provide data that can be charted and mapped over time. You want to see any big changes that occur, not just one snapshot that tells you what’s going on in your body at that time.
This also gives your doctor the opportunity to check and monitor your heart health, your blood pressure, your blood sugar levels and your cholesterol. Remember, early intervention and prevention is really key. We want to be more aware and correct issues before they develop into something more serious.
Keep in mind that your risk of heart disease significantly increases after the age of 45 and people aged 40 to 59 are more than five times as likely to have heart disease as people ages 20 to 39. In addition, two out of three adults over 60 have high blood pressure. These conditions are very serious but often are as a result of factors that you can probably control, treat, reverse, and prevent by watching your weight, by exercising, or by quitting smoking.
It's also important to find healthy ways to deal with stress, and to eat a healthy anti-inflammatory diet to minimize inflammation. Remember the equation on health which is: Less Inflammation In + More Inflammation Out = Healthier You.
We have to make sure that we’re keeping the things that are making us inflamed out of our bodies. Also remember to take Smarter Curcumin as well, as it is fast acting, and fights the free radicals that cause accelerated aging and inflammation. We want to make sure that we are taking this consistently every single day so that if we do have too much inflammation in our bodies, it can be addressed immediately and effectively.
Closely monitor your blood sugar
This is even more important as we age. Monitoring blood sugar helps us keep tabs on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In addition, irregular blood sugar levels can also be an indication of metabolic syndrome. Monitoring our blood sugar helps us understand where we are and recognize any indications of metabolic syndrome, chronic inflammation, high cholesterol, or high triglyceride levels, all of which can lead to increased risk of heart disease. All of these things involve your health, your diet, your weight, your choices and your stress levels; they all go hand in hand.
It is important to eat healthy, stay active, and stay on top of your health. We need to really pay attention to our annual screenings and be proactive about them. We can save each other’s lives, or save our own lives by just getting the data, setting up a baseline, and using that information to move forward.
Gaining weight even just by one or two pounds every year is actually really significant because over time, it can become dangerous.
Gradual and sustained weight gain especially as we age has been linked to at least 20 chronic diseases including:
- Heart Disease
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic syndrome
- Chronic inflammation
If this applies to you — if you've consistently gained a few extra pounds every year — you want to start to address it. Make sure you keep tabs on any sudden weight gain, which could be an indication of more significant and immediate health issues. Also, ensure that you’re working with your healthcare professional or your doctor to help maintain a constant and healthy weight. Doing this will reduce the risk of developing a number of health issues. Not only will it help decrease the likelihood of developing the conditions above, it also helps prevent other issues such as sleep apnea, osteoporosis, and joint pain. All of these can be addressed at least in part by maintaining a healthy weight.
Reasons for weight gain at 50
Weight gain is especially common for women who are going through menopause, which can lead to hormonal changes. Estrogen decreases, and because of this hormonal decline, body fat can be disrupted. The fat redistributes and coagulates around the belly, the hips, and the thigh area.
For both men and women, the muscle mass decreases, and since your body burns muscle faster than it burns fat typically, fewer calories are being burned.
It’s common for people to slow down as they age, but you should still be moving your body. Stay active regularly, exercise more days than you don't, and remember to adjust your diet. These are all great ways to keep the extra pounds at bay.
What do you do to stay active once you’re 50?
If you’re over 50, just commit to walking and taking deep breaths. When you are chronically stressed, you typically will shallow breathe or hold your breath and you’re not outside enjoying nature. Also ensure that you’re taking Smarter Curcumin and addressing your inflammatory load as well.
Pick an exercise that you love to do. Do something that sparks joy in you and that you can commit to doing consistently. Adjust the activity to your lifestyle, but make sure you’re doing something that you can stick to, that keeps you motivated. Consider taking a yoga, pilates, or tai chi class.
However, it is important to keep in mind that we tend to slow down in our 50s. These types of exercises are great for improving range of motion and flexibility but they might not do the trick in terms of keeping your metabolism boosted. For this reason, be sure to include some cardio and strength training into your routine. Strength training is very helpful for boosting your metabolism. If possible, be active every day for at least 20 minutes.
In doing all of the above, make sure that you listen to your body and address any issues you become aware of. Be mindful of your heart, muscles, and joints. Remember we don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. Have more fun and do things that spark joy.
Once you turn 50, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of living a very long, purposeful, happy and pain-free life, as well as decrease your chances of getting certain illnesses and experiencing health issues like cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
First and foremost, get screened. Get screened regularly for prostate, breast, and skin cancer. Stay active. Exercise and move your body regularly, every day if you can. Things like yoga and pilates are fabulous for increasing flexibility and range of motion, and both will help you decrease your stress levels as well. It’s also very important to do some cardio and strength training, especially as you get older, not only to keep your muscle tone up and build bone density but also to keep your heart rate and metabolism up.
Once you head into your 50s, your metabolism slows down and you begin to lose muscle mass. This means you need to be extra vigilant about keeping weight gain at bay. You can do this by exercising and following an anti-inflammatory diet. Make sure your diet is rich in lean proteins, dark leafy greens, and a ton of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.
Keep your mind active as well. Take up a new hobby, learn a new skill and read books. Go outside for a walk and maybe take a different route each time. Develop new neurons and synapses so that you’re using more of your brain. Connect with friends and loved ones whenever possible.
Eating healthy, staying active both mentally and physically, managing your stress, and early detection of potential health issues, are all very important as you get older. There is no one secret but there are key things that are common across cultures and genders, that are the real secrets to success in terms of staying healthy and productive well into our later years.