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By the time we reach our 50th birthday our bodies are likely to have been through a variety of strains, stresses and medical issues over the years. When you reach that milestone it is important to keep a close check on your health, as there may be specific requirements to keep yourself ticking along.

 

Here are some things to look out for and check on with your GP:

 

1.Your weight. As we get older our weight can fluctuate. It is less easy to preform vigorous exercise and therefore weight can be gained. Appetites can change and weight can also be lost. Ask your doctor to regularly check your BMI and any sudden weight loss or gain should be investigated.

 

2. Regular screenings. Keep up to date with your screening appointments. This is the best way to detect underlying issues which could be serious. Ensure that your doctor knows your family history so that regular screenings take place. In general, men 50 and over should get blood pressure and cholesterol checked and undergo regular colorectal and diabetes screenings. Women 50 and over should have blood pressure checked and undergo routine mammograms (every other year for those over 55), pap tests for cervical cancer and screening for colorectal cancer and diabetes.

 

3. Look after your skin. Once you are over 50 think about how many hours of sun exposure your skin has endured. Have you worked outside for much of your life? Enjoyed the garden? Or are a frequent jet-setter? Make sure that you are regularly checking your skin for moles, and sun damage and visit your GP if you have any concerns. Your skin can become dry as you age therefore, ensure that you moisturise and ideally use creams that contain SPF.

 

4. Digestion issues. It is normal to experience changes to your usual bowel movements and digestion as your digestive motility and enzymatic production starts to slow down after 50. This can be treated with diet or medication, but don’t dismiss any changes as they could be a sign of a more serious condition. Speak to your GP if you are concerned.

 

5. Keep an eye on your thyroid. Unfortunately, as you age, it’s more common to develop thyroid disorders, such as an underactive or overactive thyroid gland. If not detected and kept under control early, chronic problems can unfold. An over or underactive thyroid can cause a number of symptoms therefore speak to your GP if you are concerned.

 

6. Vaccines. It is likely that new vaccines are available that you wouldn’t have been offered as an adolescent. Speak to your doctor to see if there is anything you should have. You may need to top up vaccines you had as a child and remember that the flu jab is available every winter for those over 60.

 

7. Medication. In later life you may find that you are taking a variety of medication. It is worth taking stock of your prescriptions with your GP to see if they are all still necessary, or if any alternatives are available with fewer side-effects.

Getting enough sleep. As you get older you may find that your sleep habits change, many people have difficulty drifting off or wake in the night. Some people find that they need less sleep once they have retired and others find that they need an afternoon nap. This is all a normal part of aging but if your sleep patterns are bothering you (or your other half!) it may be worth speaking to your GP for some guidance.

 

Blood sugar checks. After the age of 45 it is recommended that patients have a blood sugar test every 3 years to minimise the risk of developing problems. High blood sugar can put you at risk of coronary heart disease, kidney disease, diabetic eye disease and diabetes.

 

How is your bone health? Bone health is important as you get older. Menopause can cause bone breakdown as well as gradual bone loss due to aging. Recovering from a fracture is more difficult the older you are so keep up your calcium and vitamin D intake. Keeping your bones in good health will also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life.

 

Look after your mental health. Whilst you are taking good care of your physical health, don’t forget your mental wellbeing is just as important. Stress, anxiety and depression can hit us at any age, but often as we get older and experience more stressful events, such as divorce and bereavement, it can be difficult to cope. Speak to your GP if you are struggling with your mental health and get the support you need.

 

Healthy heart. People in their 50’s and 60’s have the highest risk of heart disease. Factors such as stress, being overweight, a poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking are all contributors to poor heart health, so consider if you are looking after.

 

Worried about Dementia. Dementia can occur at any age but is much more likely to develop in older people. If you have a family history of dementia then speak to your GP about early warning signs yourself well enough. Speak to your GP if you have any concerns regarding your heart.

 

Protect your eyesight. Over time, you might experience changes or deterioration in your eyesight. In your 50s, it is common to have difficulties with short sightedness. Pay attention to irregularities in your vision, whether it’s blurriness, distorted images, floaters or headaches. Speak to your doctor and have regular appointments with your Optician.

 

Keep fit and healthy. Many illnesses can be controlled or maintained by keeping a good healthy lifestyle. Continue to exercise for as long as your body allows. If you can no longer manage vigorous exercise or cardio then try something low impact such as swimming, a cross-trainer, brisk walking or yoga. Low impact exercise is good for the mind and body. If you enjoy competitive sports consider walking football, walking netball, golf or bowls. Most gyms have specialist classes for older people that can be altered to suit your abilities. Eating a well-balanced diet will help your overall health, help manage your weight, help keep your organs healthy and maintain healthy digestion.

 

Keeping in good check of your health as you get older can help diagnose problems or spot health issues early on, which gives you a much better chance of recovery.

 

Our Clinical Negligence Team at Lamb Brooks work with individuals who have received negligent medical care. This can often be down to things going unnoticed or un-diagnosed by your GP. Hopefully taking note of your health risks at certain points of your life will help you understand what questions you should be asking your doctor, what symptoms or changes to keep a close eye on and know when to push for further tests, screenings or referrals.

 

If you are concerned about medical negligence for you or a loved one then please get in touch with our experts who can talk through your circumstances and give you guidance on any potential claims. Call our friendly and supportive team on 01256 844888 or email enquiries@lambbrooks.com.

 

 

 

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.