This article is for those born between the years of 1946 and 1964. Those who knew Woodstock and the Beatles in a more personal way than merely fabled tales of greatness, freedom and splendor written in books or played from dusty albums with worn covers. Baby boomer’s, you comprise 21.45% of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census. You are young, thriving and remember 65 is the new 45.
There is a common nomenclature in medicine that precedes one’s medical history standardly stated as “67-year-old patient with a past medical history of …” presents to the office. I would like to change this line of thinking to how many years young said individual is. Age is just a number, as the saying goes, and with that said, I want to provide some general reminders of what is recommended for you from a health screening and vaccination standpoint from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. I will touch on some key areas, but please see your physician to make sure you are up to date with your health maintenance that is due at 65 years young!
Colorectal cancer screening is recommended for asymptomatic adults aged 50 to 75 years. The gold standard remains a colonoscopy, at least every 10 years. However, you will be happy to know there is a new alternative that is stool sample based DNA testing called Cologard. Both these options share a sensitivity of upwards of 90% colon cancer detection rates.
Say you’re a 65-year-young man, who through the Woodstock days smoked cigarettes. Well, you would qualify for abdominal aortic aneurysm screening with an ultrasound. If you have a 20-pack year (one pack a day each year) smoking history, currently smoke or have quit within the last 15 years then you would also qualify for yearly low dose chest CT imaging for lung cancer screening being you’re between the age of 50 to 80.
Women, between the age of 50 and 74, please remember to complete breast cancer screening every two years with mammography. Additionally, ensure you are paying your visits to your OB for a pelvic exam/pap smear every three years between the ages of 21 to 65. Also, don’t forget about your bone health. If you’re 65 or older I would recommend bone density testing.
This is not meant to be all inclusive, but hopefully will be motivation for you to maintain your health, and your youth by seeing your doctor to make sure you are checking all boxes at your 60,000-mile checkup, and can cruise the road smoothly with peace of mind knowing you are doing all you can in the name of prevention and wellbeing.
Lastly, please remember to inquire about recommended vaccinations at the age of 65. A vaccination for bacterial pneumonia is recommended at this age, tetanus vaccination every 10 years, and a shingles vaccine (named Shingrix, for those 50 and older, and is a two-step vaccine spaced two to five months apart). A yearly flu shot is also recommended.
Dr. Seth Levine is writes about internal medicine for the Cleveland Jewish News. He is an internal medicine physician at the UH Internal Medicine Center in Independence.