When it comes to your health and wellbeing, it is better to be proactive than struggling to combat problems that could have been prevented. A positive lifestyle can go a long way toward better health, but it is not the end-all-be-all.
It is impractical to run every test on a regular basis, creating a dilemma—what tests should be done, and when?
To circumnavigate this dilemma, doctors have compiled information regarding common health issues and developed a comprehensive schedule that relates certain health problems and their correlating tests to age and risk factors.
In other words, selected screenings are performed when adults hit a specific age or if risk factors are present. While the basic rubric may seem one-size-fits-all, it is easily adjusted to an individual’s unique health concerns, including genetic risk factors, family history, lifestyle, and more.
We’ve outlined the primary tests below in relation to the age groups that should receive them, as well as the relative frequency with which the screenings should be performed. Keep in mind that your doctor may take a different approach depending on their preferred methods and the state of your health.
Screenings for Young Adults
For healthy adults under the age of 40, there are a handful of basic tests that should be done on an annual or regular basis. These screenings are typically done in conjunction with annual physical exams and include body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, skin condition, family medical issues, diabetes, vaccines, mental health, and blood work.
Men and women in this age bracket should also be screened for gender-specific issues such as cervical cancer, sexually transmitted infections, and breast/testicular cancer.
For people between the ages of 18 and 40, the list of required annual and regular tests is short unless there are outstanding factors or increased risk is noted. For a more specific look at the screenings young adults should receive, check out the detailed list below.
- Annual Tests
- Weight, height, and blood pressure
- Depression screening
- Blood work
- Breast exam
- Risk dependent
- Medical issues related to family history
- Skin screening
- Diabetes screening
- Sexually-transmitted infections
- Cervical cancer screening
Tests for Middle-Aged Adults
The regular tests established as a young adult do not stop when the threshold to midlife is crossed. For those aged 40 to 64, additional tests are added to the base tests done in young adults. While there is no set age at which these particular tests are introduced, they typically coincide with the increased risk of certain conditions that accompany the aging process.
An annual flu shot, the administration of the shingles vaccine, blood work, mammograms, pelvic exams, and prostate exams are all examples of additional tests and procedures that should be performed regularly as you age. Other conditions, such as osteoporosis and lung cancer, may be screened for if your doctor determines that there is a need.
When entering the middle phase of life, more regular testing is required to ensure you remain in good health. These additional screenings do not replace the tests necessary for younger adults; rather, they are performed in addition to them. The additional tests include those listed below.
- Flu shot
- Mental health assessment
- 50 and Up
- Shingles vaccine
- Colorectal screening
- Prostate exam
- Risk Dependent
- Osteoporosis screening
- Lung cancer screening
Screenings for Older Adults
Once you hit the age of 65, some tests that were optional in years past will be upgraded to recommended. This is simply because there are certain health concerns that increase with the body’s natural aging process.
The good news is that your insurance is more likely to cover these tests once an age threshold has been met. If you are concerned about the coverage of your insurance for these newly recommended tests, feel free to speak to your doctor and/or contact your insurance company with specific questions.
At age 65 and older, the screenings performed in your younger years will continue, and tests such as fall prevention and colorectal cancer screening will be added to the list of recommendations. Your doctor may also consider more frequent testing due to age or age-related risk factors that have developed.
Keep in mind that additional screenings are just that—preventative tests that are added to the screenings already establish at younger ages.
- Fall prevention
- High-dose flu vaccine
- Osteoporosis screening (annual for women, every five years for men)
No matter what your age may be or what risk factors you may possess, finding a physician you trust to perform comprehensive wellness checks and screenings is key to living a long, healthy life. By opting to undergo the tests above—and any others that your doctor may recommend—you can set yourself up for success and catch any potential issues before they become serious problems.
Preventative testing is highly effective in stopping illnesses and other issues before they can get started. When combined with a healthy, active lifestyle, these screenings help ensure you and your doctor are not caught off-guard.
It’s important to remember that the tests and their related age ranges are merely suggestions. Everybody is different and may have unique risk factors. This makes it even more essential to establish an open line of communication with your physician, especially one that stretches over a long period of time, as they can work with you directly and customize your preventative screening regimen.