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Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Seeing a Doctor at Age 50: What Tests?
I normally see my OB/GYN and get a pap smear and mammogram done annually, but since I turned 50 earlier this year, I`ve been thinking about making an appointment with my family physician. Besides BP and cholesterol tests, I know I should inquire about a shingles vaccine and about getting a colonoscopy. Is there anything else that a woman at age 50 should ask her doctor about?
Thank you for taking such good care of yourself! When you talk with your family provider, you might also talk about have a dexascan to determine your bone strength and look at your calcium and Vitamin D levels. This is particularly important if you?re are not physically active with weight bearing exercises like walking or jogging. Another thing to discuss is getting a current TDaP immunization. Many of us have had tetanus shots and they were supposed to last 10 years, but if you haven't had one in the last five years, it's important to get a new one and protect yourself and your loved ones against pertussis (whooping cough) which is very common. Also, you need a flu shot- remember that this has to be done annually and you DON'T get the flu from it- it's a killed virus. The flu mist is not appropriate when you are over 49. This is also a good time to talk about any menstrual or sexual changes you've experienced. A Family Practitioner should be quite comfortable talking about issues of contraception in older adults, vaginal dryness and changes in libido. Overall, it's important to discuss how you feel and that means your emotional health as well as your physical health. Family practitioners are very interested in keeping ALL of you well, not just the physical parts. This is also a good time to discuss any questions you may have about diet, exercise and things you see or read that sound "too good to be true" especially in weight management, which is important for everyone. All the best!
Elizabeth R Barker, APRN, BC, FNP, FAANP, CHE, PhD
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University