Health Screenings You Need in Your 60s 

Jake Newby

| 4 min read

We all know our health becomes more delicate with age. By 60, several wellness screenings are provided on a case-by-case basis, so our specific health profiles factor heavily into which screenings we do or do not need. As a quick refresher, here is a partial list of screenings recommended in your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s: 
  • Annual preventive visit 
  • Infectious disease screening 
  • Cervical cancer screening 
  • Breast cancer screening (Reminder: By age 50, patients can begin scheduling mammograms every other year). 
  • Colorectal cancer screening 
  • Prostate cancer screening 
  • Mental health screening 
  • Blood pressure screening 
  • Pre-diabetes and diabetes screening
  • Lung cancer screening 
  • Cholesterol screening 
  • Shingles vaccination
  • Dental exams 
  • Eye exams 
Since not all the above screenings need to be automatically scheduled in your 60s, be sure to stay in lockstep with your primary care provider (PCP)and assess your risk for future medical problems. Discussions with your PCP can help you stay on track for any updated vaccinations or services you may need that year.

Health screening notes for adults in their 60s

Cervical cancer screening: The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends those between age 30 and 65 screen every three years with cervical cytology alone, every five years with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) testing alone, or every 5 years with HPV testing in combination with cytology (cotesting).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Screening after age 65 may be appropriate if you are at high risk, including if you have:
  • A history of cervical lesions or cancer.
  • Mothers who took a hormone called diethylstilbestrol (DES) while pregnant.
  • Have a weakened immune system.
If you are considered high risk, talk with your PCP about how often to get screened and until what age.
Prostate cancer screening: For men aged 55 to 69 years, the decision to undergo periodic prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screening for prostate cancer should be an individual one, according to the USPSTF. Before deciding whether to be screened, have an opportunity to discuss the potential benefits and harms of screening with their PCP and to incorporate their values and preferences in the decision.
Colorectal cancer screenings are still recommended for individuals through age 75. But anyone older should talk to their doctor about whether continued tests are beneficial. Insurance providers typically cover vital cancer screenings. Yet, the timeline for services and individual coverage can vary by plan. In certain cases, exceptions may be made for those who are at a higher risk for disease. Members should always check with their insurance carrier before scheduling a screening.

Health screenings/vaccinations to get in your 60s

Bone density testing: The USPSTF recommends that women aged 65 and older screen for osteoporosis with bone measurement testing to prevent osteoporotic fractures.
RSV vaccine: The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine can prevent lower respiratory tract disease caused by RSV. RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms.
Pneumococcal vaccine: Vaccines help prevent pneumococcal disease, which is any type of illness caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. The two types of pneumococcal vaccines recommended in the United States are:
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs, specifically PCV15 and PCV20)
  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23)
Per the CDC, adults 65 years or older have the option to get PCV20 if they have already received the PCV13 (but not PCV15 or PCV20) at any age – and – the PPSV23 at or after the age of 65 years old. The decision to get PCV20 should be discussed collaboratively with your PCP.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening (AAA):Men with a history of smoking cigarettes who are between the ages of 65-75 are recommended by the USPSTF to undergo a one-time screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) with ultrasonography. AAA is an enlarged area in the lower part of the body's aorta.

Informed medical decision making

This blog post highlights some of the routine health screenings for adults in this age range. There may be additional recommendations based on individual risk factors including family history and lifestyle. It is important for you to be informed about recommended health screenings, understand the benefits of early detection, risks involved if you decide not to receive recommended screenings, and potential benefits and risks of treatment. We recommend that you have a conversation with your provider that incorporates your goals and values as you make decisions regarding your health care. 
Read more from this series:
Photo credit: Getty Images

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