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Preventive Care for Seniors

What are preventive services?
Your doctor provides preventive services to help you avoid health problems or to identify them early. In many cases, problems that are found early are more likely to respond to treatment. Preventive services include screening tests, vaccinations, and health advice. Your doctor will recommend the services that are appropriate for you based on your age, sex, and medical and family history.

Why are preventive services important for older adults?
Preventive services are important for everyone, especially for older adults. This is because your risk for health problems increases as you age. By preventing problems, or identifying them at an early stage, you are more likely to live a longer, healthier, and more satisfying life.

Many older adults do not get the vaccinations, screenings, and other preventive services that experts recommend.

The following preventive services are especially important for older adults:

Influenza vaccine :
This yearly vaccine helps prevent influenza (the flu). Older adults should get this vaccine every year. About 85% of the deaths from influenza are in people 65 years of age or older.

Pneumococcal vaccine : The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV) helps prevent pneumonia. For people who have pneumonia, it helps prevent life-threatening complications. This is especially important for older adults. They are more likely to get pneumonia and develop complications.

Breast cancer screening : Nearly half of all new breast cancer cases are in women 65 years of age and older. Between the ages of 50 and 74, women should have a mammogram every 2 years to screen for breast cancer. Depending on your breast cancer risk factors, your doctor may recommend that you have a mammogram more often.

Colorectal cancer screening :
Two out of every 3 new colorectal cancer cases are in adults 65 years of age and older. Beginning at 50 years of age and continuing until 75 years of age, all adults should be screened for colorectal cancer. Your doctor will recommend the right type of screening test for you.

Diabetes screening :
Diabetes is very common in older adults. It affects almost 1 out of every 4 adults 60 years of age and older. If your blood pressure is regularly higher than 135/80 mm Hg, your doctor may test you for diabetes, even if you don't have any symptoms.