Seven Health Screenings Every Senior Woman Needs
October 20, 2021
October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” During the month, public service announcements and events remind women of the importance of regular self-exams and mammograms. While important, breast cancer screening is just one of many health screenings that adult women – particularly seniors – should get regularly.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women – 1 in 8 will be diagnosed over the course of their lifetimes. Fortunately, when it’s detected early and still localized within the breast, the 5-year survival rate is 99%.
Doctors urge all women to perform regular self-exams, but it’s also important to have an annual mammogram. This is a “minimum essential benefit” under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and insurance plans – including Medicare and Medicaid – should cover an annual mammogram with no co-pay.
Virtually every woman worries about breast cancer, but only 1 in 3 considers the danger from cardiovascular disease. That’s a problem, because cardiovascular disease kills more women each year than all cancers combined. It’s the greatest single cause of death for American women each year.
Ask your doctor about screening tests that can help detect heart disease and identify risk factors for all types of cardiovascular diseases. Some screenings and tests are covered at no charge to you under the ACA.
Remember that symptoms of heart attack in women may present differently than in men. Make sure you can recognize the symptoms of a heart attack. The sooner you get medical care, the better the outcome. In an emergency, a medical alert system can help you call for help quickly.
Women are more likely to experience high blood pressure (hypertension) after menopause. You can’t see or feel it, but it damages your systems nevertheless. Hypertension can lead to stroke, kidney failure, eye problems, and heart failure. It often runs in families, and people of African American descent are at increased risk.
Consider getting a home blood pressure monitor and doing a daily check. Keep a record to share with your doctor. The high blood pressure range for seniors starts at 130-139/80-89. If your blood pressure is consistently in that range (or higher), contact your doctor.
Everyone between the ages of 45-75 should get regular colorectal cancer screenings. It’s second leading cause of death in the US, and about 25,000 women die each year from it. Screening methods may be invasive or non-invasive. Your doctor can recommend the best type for you by looking at your family history, medical history, and any current symptoms.
Beginning at age 50 many colorectal cancer screenings are covered by private insurance and Medicare/Medicaid with no co-pay required.
Hearing loss can occur throughout life, but almost everyone’s hearing levels decline as the age. Senior hearing loss affects both health and quality of life, but only about 20% of seniors with hearing loss get help. Untreated hearing loss can degrade social relationships, affect balance, and make driving more dangerous.
Unfortunately, traditional Medicare doesn’t cover routine hearing tests or assistive devices like hearing aids – although some Medicare Advantage plans do. Veterans with service-related hearing problems may be eligible for help through the VA.
Every senior age 65 and over should get a hearing test at least every two years.
After age 65, schedule an eye exam every year – particularly if you have chronic health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, or a family history of serious eye diseases like glaucoma or macular degeneration.
Eye exams can often reveal health problems you weren’t aware of including diabetes, hypertension, liver disease, and sickle cell anemia.
Original Medicare doesn’t cover routine eye exams or corrective lens, but Part B may cover exams if you have diagnosed eye diseases or risk factors. Medicare Advantage plans may cover routine screenings and corrective lens. Check with your provider.
Osteoporosis is most likely to affect women because they often have smaller, thinner bones with less density. Women also tend to live longer than men, and bone loss happens to everyone as we age.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis puts older women at risk of falls and broken bones:
- Of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, about eight million or 80% are women.
- Approximately one in two women over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis.
- A woman’s risk of breaking a hip is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends routine screening of bone mineral density for women age 65 and older. Women with higher levels of osteopenia (bone density loss) need regular rescreenings every 1-3 years, depending on the amount of bone loss.
With a doctor’s recommendation, Medicare covers one routine bone density scan every 2 years. However, if you have a condition that can lead to reduced bone density, like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, you may qualify for more frequent screenings.
Fall Detection from Bay Alarm Medical
If you have any medical conditions that make falls more likely or more dangerous – like reduced hearing, eyesight, cardiovascular disease, or osteoporosis – consider getting a home medical alert system with fall detection.
At Bay Alarm Medical, you can select the option that best fits your lifestyle and your budget:
- In-home medical alert systems with optional fall detection for landlines or cellular phones.
- On-the-go medical alert options match your active lifestyle choose a GPS help button, our new SOS Smartwatch, or an in-car medical alert.
Contact us by phone at 1-877-522-9633 to learn more. Our representatives can help you select the best system – or system bundle – for you or a loved one.