You’re eligible, or nearly so, for Medicare, and you get reduced-price movie tickets. Hopefully during the so-called Golden Years you’ll reap other benefits as well. Be grateful that you still feel young at heart – and don’t take your good health for granted.
Keep up the vigilant, proactive approach to your well-being, says Sharon Brangman, M.D., professor of medicine at Upstate Medical College of the State University of New York, and past president of the American Geriatrics Society. Besides the health checks here, you might consider talking to your doctor about a cognitive or memory screen.
“Sixty-five is a good time for a baseline screen, which most primary-care doctors can do in their offices,” says Dr. Brangman. And if you want to continue to annoy your kids and delight your grandkids for years to come, keep exercising. You don’t have to train for a marathon or look for a full-court pickup game, but you should aim to be active every day: exercise has been shown to reduce dementia, lower blood pressure and blood sugar, and will give you energy for all the things you have time to do now. Studies have shown that older men (and, okay, women) who maintained or began weight-training programs improved their overall health in many ways.
Here’s what else you need to know now:
Abdominal aortic aneurysm check
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Research Health and Quality (ARHC) notes that all men 65 and older who have ever smoked (more than 100 cigarettes in a lifetime) should get a sonogram to check for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). An asymptomatic bulging in your abdominal aorta can eventually rupture – which as you might imagine can be fatal. Don’t skip it.
You may already have a pair of reading glasses (or four) in your possession, and/or prescription lenses, and hopefully you’ve been getting regular eye exams. Be sure to get yourself to the ophthalmologist to check for age-related eye issues such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. The sooner the better.
If you had chicken pox as a kid, think about getting the herpes zoster vaccine to help protect against shingles, a painful condition caused by the same virus (which lays dormant in your body for decades, and can reactivate later in life). The United States Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended that adults older than 60 receive the herpes zoster vaccine as part of their routine medical care. It’s a personal decision, but keep in mind that the nerve pain and possible nerve damage from a case of shingles can be long lasting.
An annual flu vaccine is currently recommended for everyone these days, but especially for those over 65, and anyone who has asthma, a lung disease such as COPD, or if you’re a healthcare provider yourself. Do get a pneumonia vaccine – it’s also recommended for those over 65—or younger if you have any condition that leaves you vulnerable to infection.
Bone density test
Yep, men need one, too. Though osteoporosis is less common in men than in women, more than 2 million men in the U.S. get this bone-weakening disease as they age, according to the National Institutes of Health. Men should get a bone density test at age 70, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, or sooner (age 50 to 69) if you have risk factors such as having broken a bone, or you’ve lost half an inch of your height within the last year.