It is often said that one of the most challenging aspects of being a caregiver is that the role does not come with a handbook. Caregivers are usually thrust into the position with little-to-no knowledge regarding what is expected of them or how they should go about tackling the role. First and foremost one of the most important aspects of caregiving is managing your loved one’s health, and when it comes to health there is an authority caregivers can consult.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force has put together a handbook of sorts outlining recommendations for screenings seniors should undergo. These simple medical tests can be requested when you take your loved one to the doctor:
- Blood pressure: Your loved one’s blood pressure should be checked every year. Their heart, arteries, brain and kidney depend on it.
- Weight gain: With age comes slower metabolism, not to mention that as we age muscle replaces fat. Weight is inextricably tied to health, so making sure your elderly loved one’s weight is in check is of utmost importance.
- Rectal exam: The rectal exam and fecal occult blood test (FOBT) will tell your loved one if they have any masses or subtle bleeding. Rectal exams help detect treatable problems in the colon or the prostrate for men. Once reaching the age of 50 individuals should also under a colonoscopy every 10 years.
- Eye exams: Macular degeneration and glaucoma are common with old age. Once reaching the age of 65 the elderly should have their eyes checked every year to preserve and maximize their vision.
- Hearing test: It is estimated that at least 30% of people over the age of 60 have experienced some hearing loss, most of which can be treated. Your loved one should undergo a hearing test at least every three years.
- Bone density test: Osteoporosis can severely hinder the state of anyone’s health. If your loved has osteoporosis and they suffer a fracture, their risk of permanent disability or death greatly increases. Ask your loved one’s doctor to refer them for a bone density test so they know where they stand.
- Cholesterol Screening: Having high cholesterol can lead to a heart attack or stroke. If your loved one has high cholesterol, it can be treated with medications and altering their diet.
- Vaccinations: After the age of 65 it is recommended that people get a pneumococcal vaccine to protect against pneumonia. The elderly should also get a yearly flu shoot and a tetanus booster every ten years.
- For Women: As age increases, so does a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer. It is especially important that elderly women get annual mammograms. Women over the age of 65 should also routinely undergo pelvic exams and Pap smears. Older women can get cervical cancer and pelvic exams can help discover incontinence issues as well.
By scheduling yearly visits for your loved one to get his or her health checked out, you will have the ability to prevent a lot of heartache down the road. While there may not be many guidelines when it comes to caregiving, making sure the elderly are routinely screened is one area you can completely master.
* As with all medical suggestions and advice, you should be sure to consult your personal physician for recommendations as they pertain to your care and not rely on material provided herein.