Annual Physicals For Elders
Two Pals 80
He had lots of hair,
whereas his buddy was bald.
They'd been friends for 80 years.
But there was a difference.
One complained of aches and pains.
The other? Nary a word.
"Why?", the first asked.
"Look and feel like a newborn,"
replied the other.
"How so?" asked the first friend.
"Bald and toothless," he replied.
"And feel?" asked the first.
"Just wet my diaper," replied his buddy.
100th Birthday! But how does it happen?
What should a good "annual physical" check?
As in the tale of the two 80 years old buddies, the first thing an elder's annual physical should check is any aches and pains. So make sure they get described to the doctor doing the annual physical.
Secondly, are immunizations all current, as well as the recommended shots for shingles and for pneumonia? (As the flu season approaches, is the flu shot current too?)
What does the elder's height and weight tell the doctor that may need discussion leading to optimum health?
Have teeth and vision been checked lately? If not, appointments should be scheduled as well as a hearing test. Infections, glaucoma, and reduced vision and hearing. can all make a difference in health going forward.
Diabetes and Colon Polyps are health concerns elders should be avoiding by getting regular screenings. In the case of diabetes, blood is tested for the level of sugars in the blood. A regular colonoscopy scheduled on your doctor's recommendation can be a lifesaver.
The doctor or the doctor's staff will routinely check the elder's blood pressure, pulse, and blood oxygen levels, and make recommendations which, if any, must be taken seriously.
The annual physical will routinely check the elder's lungs, thyroid, heart and any health symptoms which may have been of concern in the past.
Lately some doctors provide a questionnaire the elder fills out on how the elder feels day to day, signs of depression, poor sleep, stresses, exercise, etc., to get an idea of the elder's mental health and general physical health.
Basic physical strength will also be examined by having the elder squeeze the doctor's hands or fingers, push the doctor's hands up, then down, and do similar tests for the legs.
The old "open wide and say ahhh" will allow the doctor to check for oral and throat abnormalities that could be of concern at the same time that the doctor continues a visual exam of the elder's face, neck, and skin.
What else is the annual physical exam intended to cover besides any personal concerns the elder may have?
If over 50, or with a history of breast cancer in the family, a woman will be encouraged to get a mammagram. Both men and women might have it suggested that they test their levels of Vitamin D. For a man, two possible suggested tests might include tests for a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) and for any concern over testosterone levels.
In the metabolic workup that will be done as a result of the elder's exam, the cholesterol level will be checked along with the blood sugar level, and while the elder or the elder's guardian may have to request it, at least once every three years, the metabolic workup should include checking the elder's liver enzymes to monitor for any possible liver disease. Liver disease, like diabetes, colon disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, dangerous cholesterol levels, and other major killers and disabiling conditions, can be silent.
That's why we need to encourage elders over 50, and anyone younger who isn't feeling their best, to get an annual physical.
The old adage is still true: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Do it for them! Fathers Day is a great reminder time.
© 2015 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.
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