5 Must Have Mid-life checkups for Women
January 1st rolls around and you’re ready to set new goals, make resolutions and implement changes in your habits. Here it is halfway into the year and have you made your annual health check-ups yet? Have you included them into your goals, changes and resolutions?
The single most important task you can do for yourself and your family is to be sure your body is in tip-top shape, both inside and out, especially when you enter mid-life. How you take care of yourself during your 20’s, 30’s and 40’s determines how healthy you will be when your 50’s and beyond hit. Before you know it, menopause will arrive and you’ll be asking yourself what is going on with your body, wondering what is normal and what is not.
We hear it many times; eat healthy, eliminate sugar, exercise, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep and the list goes on and on. These healthy habits are important and the gateway to healthy living. Yet many people, especially women, neglect getting annual exams. Some of these exams can be life-saving. As caretakers by nature, we take care of our children, their children, and in many circumstances, our elderly parents. Mid-life, which is supposed to be a time for slowing down, has become as busy as when we were starting careers and raising children, therefore, not leaving time for a few doctor appointments which are important for good health.
Here are five exams every woman beginning in their 50’s should be getting annually:
1. Physical Exam
Begin here, your annual physical with your general practitioner. At this visit, your overall health history is discussed. Your blood pressure, cholesterol, thyroid, glucose and any other lab tests your doctor feels you need are checked with a simple blood test. Know your numbers. The basics – weight, height, hearing and medications are all checked at this exam. Be sure to let your doctor know of any new or unusual symptoms you may be having too. Many illnesses are detected early because of open communication with your doctor. Your doctor may only see you once a year, so it is important to be honest when answering any health questions asked. Depending on your answers, additional tests may be ordered in regard to your age, history and current health. Discuss with your doctor any concerns you have about getting older too. Do not be afraid to ask the question, “Is this normal?”
2. OB/GYN Exam
This includes a Pap smear, breast exam, urinalysis and depending what stage of life you are in, peri-menopause and menopause issues are discussed. Many women in mid-life who haven’t had a Pap smear in years is on the rise. They think once they’re done having children it isn’t necessary. You couldn’t be more wrong. An annual Pap smear can save your life. If detected early, many illnesses can be treated and ultimately cured. The childbearing years may be behind you, but your body is still undergoing major changes.
3. Eye Exam
Sometimes depending on age and circumstances, you only need this every two years. Either way, your eyes can tell a lot about your overall health. Be sure you have a competent eye doctor who will look for changes not only in your eyes, but your overall health too. Many medications can cause changes in vision, so be sure to bring an updated list of all medications you are taking. Prescriptions for eyeglasses and contacts should be followed through at each visit. Be prepared to bring those with you at your exam. It is also a good idea to invest in a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes. Many eye doctors are now carrying a variety of selections in their offices.
4. Dental Exam
When was the last time you went to the dentist? Some insurance companies allow twice a year exams, if you are one of the fortunate ones to have dental coverage. If not, plan at least an annual cleaning and x-rays. Yes, it may cost you out-of-pocket, but many changes happen to your gums in mid-life. Periodontal disease can be treated if caught early, saving you money in the long run.
Guidelines change in regard to mammograms all the time. If you’re over 40, talk to your doctor about how often you should be getting a mammogram. Family history plays an important role as to how often. The American Cancer Society recommends guidelines for early breast cancer detection.
If you have health issues requiring specialists, be sure to make and keep those appointments too. Many tend to think if they’re feeling good, there is no need to follow-up with specialists. Even these checkups can detect changes you may not know are going on inside your body. A lot can change in one year.
We do maintenance on our homes, cars, devices and even our toys. It is far more important to keep the maintenance up on our bodies too. Strive for good health. Your children and grandchildren are depending on you to keep up with them!
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Michelle lives in North Carolina with her husband of 29 years. She is a mother to three grown daughters and “Grammie” to her two grandchildren. She teaches transitional kindergarten by day and blogs at Grammie Time by night. Spending time and making memories with her grandchildren is an investment she makes a priority.