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Sharp Health News

How to live a healthy life after retirement

Nov. 1, 2018

How to live a healthy life after retirement

Thanks to technology and modern health care, seniors are living longer and enjoying a "second act" after retirement. To maximize this time, take a proactive approach to your health care.

"Preventive health care is not one size fits all," explains Dr. Timothy Strouse, an internal medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. "It is very personal, based on your age, health status, family history and gender. Men and women have different needs, and it is important to review these needs annually with your primary care doctor."

Preventive care for women

Some conditions — such as breast and cervical cancer, and osteoporosis — are more common in women than in men. Talk with your doctor every 12 months about whether you need a mammogram, and about routine cervical screening up to age 65. If you are over 65, your doctor may recommend a bone density scan that can identify and prevent osteoporosis.

Preventive care for men

It's important to talk about prostate cancer screening with your doctor to determine the screening timeline that is right for you. Your doctor may also suggest an ultrasound to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysm if you are age 65 to 75 and have a history of smoking.

Important vaccinations and screenings for women and men

Dr. Strouse strongly encourages you to stay up to date on your vaccines, including:
  • Influenza vaccine — get your flu shot each year, in the fall.
  • Pneumococcal vaccine — the two-dose pneumonia vaccine is recommended once after age 65, and again one year later.
  • Shingles vaccine — this two-dose shot starting at age 50 is spaced two to six months apart. If you have previously had Zostavax®, it is still recommended to get Shingrix because the Zostavax is likely ineffective.
  • Tetanus vaccine — you only need to have this once every 10 years.

He also recommends these regular health screenings, provided by your doctor:

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Depression
  • Diabetes — if your blood pressure is above 135/80
  • Fall risk assessment
  • Glaucoma
  • Hearing
  • Hepatitis C — if you were born between 1945 and 1965
  • Vision
"In addition to reviewing your preventive care needs, talk with your doctor about setting up an advance health care directive, if you don't already have one," says Dr. Strouse. "This can provide the peace of mind that you will receive the type of care you desire at the end of life."

If you are eligible for Medicare (age 65 or older), open enrollment is the time of year to review your health insurance plan coverage and make changes. The enrollment period for Medicare typically runs between October and December each year.

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