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Ageism in Medicine: The Elderly Need Preventive Care Too

ageism elderly preventative carePreventive care is used to find and maintain a good personal Health standard. During a Preventive visit, your doctor will look at a number of factors to determine what vaccines, screenings, and lab work are necessary for you. These factors include age, gender, current level of health, health history, and any current symptoms you are experiencing.

Unfortunately, it’s common for the elderly to not receive proper preventive care, including important health screenings and vaccinations. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2003, nine of every 10 adults over the age of 65 did not receive the appropriate screenings.

Preventive care has many benefits. Preventing disease and illness reduces overall healthcare costs. Healthy, working adults are more productive and attend work more consistently. Most importantly, preventive care allows seniors to remain independent longer, promoting not only physical health, but also mental and emotional health.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force lists five different screenings as part of their recommendations for older adults:

  • Breast cancer screening every other year for women aged 40 years or older
  • Colorectal cancer screening for adults aged 50 to 75
  • Type 2 Diabetes screening for adults aged 40 to 70 who are also overweight
  • Lipid disorder screening for adults aged 40 to 75
  • Routine Osteoporosis screening for women aged 65 and older. Women who are found to have an increased risk of fracture should begin screening earlier.

In addition to receiving the proper screenings, the USPSTF also recommends that clinicians ask all adults about their tobacco use. Tobacco cessation counseling is covered under Medicare Part B for up to eight visits with a qualified doctor in a 12-month period.

On top of screenings, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that everyone over the age of six months receive a yearly influenza vaccination. A Rand Corporation Study done in 2003 shows that getting the influenza vaccine reduces hospitalizations and deaths among the elderly as a result of the flu virus. They also recommend a pneumococcal vaccination for those aged 65 and older. This vaccine can prevent a serious bloodstream infection.

To develop these recommendations, the USPSTF and ACIP collected data from self-reported surveys. Despite the fact that this data is dependent on the ability of the adult to remember when they last received specific preventive care, these experts believe that there are gaps in the use of preventive services. These gaps vary by race, gender, insurance coverage, and education level.

In order to reduce the number of elderly Americans not receiving the proper preventive care, local, state, and national plans have been implemented. These include things like reducing out-of-pocket costs, promoting annual wellness visits, client reminders for screenings and other tests, distributing videos and brochures to raise awareness about available services, providing transportation to medical facilities for the elderly, and expanding healthcare to take place at the patient’s home, church, or other facility.

As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If you’re interested in helping a loved one maintain their health and their independence, a home health care assistant may be able to provide the support you need. At David York Agency, our healthcare professionals can help to ensure that your loved one is receiving the proper preventive care.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need.

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Ageism in Medicine: The Elderly Need Preventive Care Too


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