Your telomeres are getting shorter with each passing year. This means your genes start to wear out. It is why your skin starts to sag when you get older and why the other common signs of aging begin. The good news is that you have the potential for a long, vibrant and healthy life if you keep ahead of any medical issues that might be headed your way. Here are four question you need to ask your healthcare team when you reach 50.
When Should I Get a Colonoscopy?
This is a big one. It usually takes years for polyps to develop into cancer. If you have some, a colonoscopy will bring them to light—literally. A gastroenterologist can see the tissues of your intestinal tract all the way over to your appendix and small intestine with a tiny camera built into a thin and flexible tube. You will be in a twilight sleep, so it will not be uncomfortable, and you will not remember the procedure. The actual procedure only takes a few minutes. It is the fasting and laxative prep that are the worst part. Keep in mind that this procedure can save your life.
How Are My Blood Sugar Levels?
As you age you may gain a few pounds and lose a little muscle mass. This can lead to a metabolic syndrome that can take you down the road to Type 2 diabetes. Your doctor or nurse practitioner should be checking your glucose levels with routine blood tests at least once per year. If you have any symptoms of diabetes, such as increased thirst, increased urination or tiredness, your doctor should investigate further. Prediabetes begins with blood glucose levels rising, but you may not have any symptoms at all. Catching the problem early can lead to complete reversal of Type 2 diabetes.
Do I Need a Statin Prescription?
Your lipid profile includes your overall cholesterol level along with things such as high-density, low-density, very high-density and very low-density lipoproteins and triglyceride levels. If your cholesterol is out of whack, it increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. That means a higher risk for strokes and heart attacks due to the waxy fat commonly known as cholesterol. You need cholesterol. Your body makes it, and you also get it from animal products. If it is too high, a statin drug can help bring it down, reducing your cardiovascular risks.
Should I Lift Weights and Exercise More?
It is not all about getting bigger around the middle, but the fat that increases your waistline is the worst. The other problem is losing muscle mass. Your muscles burn more energy than fat. They even burn energy at rest. If you lose muscle, you are more likely to put on fat if you do not cut back on calories. More fat leads to metabolic issues, including diabetes. Weight-bearing exercises are the way to maintain or even add to muscle mass. Regular exercise burns calories, keeps you flexible and is great for your heart. For getting the best healthcare answers for your age group, consulting a healthcare professional with a gerontology degree will give you the best benefits.
Even if you feel great, you should ask about all the routine tests you should have for your 50-and-over age group. The age is not a hard line. If you are younger than 50 but have symptoms that are troubling you, get checked out now. Many things can be fixed, especially when discovered early.