What health checks should I have after the age of 50?
This is a sponsored post by Health Insurance Comparison
I don’t know about you, but as I’ve moved into my 50’s an awful lot more time seems to be spent getting health maintenance checks done. I like to think that’s what it takes to keep this vintage model on the road, and I’m a strong believer in early detection of disease rather than waiting until things have set in.
So in between keeping as fit as I can, I regularly trot off for dental, skin and various well- woman check ups in the hope that I’m doing the right thing for my health. (But that’s not to say that I won’t stop trying to do my 10,000 steps a day, eating healthily and thanking my lucky stars and all the ruling Deities for continued good health as well.)
Not everyone can afford health insurance I know, but there are several checks such as mammograms which Medicare will cover.
I don’t know a lot about health insurance, and I’m always keen to find out about good deals, so when Sally from Health Insurance Comparison contacted me with a guest post idea, I was interested to find out more about the different prices and benefits offered by health insurance companies.
Sally has some great tips on which health checks women over 50 should be considering and why, which I hope you’ll find interesting.
So over to Sally …
Health Checks for Women Over 50
Once you reach your 50s, there are several health checks that will start to become particularly important. These include the kind of preventative tests that became more crucial in previous decades, and some new checks that are recommended at this stage of your life. Medicare can offer quite a lot of support for this but if you’re not eligible, health insurance Extras cover can help towards some costs.
Breast Checks and Mammograms
It’s wise to self examine your breasts on a regular basis for abnormalities and changes. This includes signs of dimpling and lumpiness on the breasts and nipples. Once you are in your 50s, mammograms are also recommended every 2 years and will be arranged by your GP.
The Medicare Situation: Breast Screen Australia offers free breast screening for women aged between 50 and 65. You will therefore be eligible to receive free mammograms between these ages.
Bone Density Scans
Bone density tests are not mandatory but may be recommended by your GP. This will look at the bone mineral density of various bones to check your risk factor for osteoporosis. The main scan for this is a painless x-ray that involves a very low amount of radiation. You can ask your GP about having bone density tests from the age of 45, especially if factors such as family history, previous fractures, medications and certain medical conditions make it more likely that you could develop osteoporosis. Ordinarily, these tests will be recommended after you reach 65 or if you have a low Body Mass Index (BMI).
The Medicare Situation: Medicare can help if you have certain medical conditions or are having treatment(s) that could contribute to rapid bone loss. Tests will be every 1-2 years until the age of 70, at which point they will happen annually.
The Health Insurance Situation: If you are not eligible for Medicare benefits, some health funds will cover preventative tests on Extras cover and this can include bone density tests. Be aware that waiting periods of up to 6 months can apply and that not all health funds will necessarily offer this option.
Bowel Cancer Screening
The risk of bowel cancer is thought to increase after the age of 50. Australia currently has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer, and there is a concerted effort being made to cut this. The Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) is recommended every 2 years after this point and will check for the presence of blood in your stools, which can be an early indication of bowel cancer. A positive result doesn’t necessarily mean that you have bowel cancer but it can mean that you have a bigger risk of developing it in the future. Your GP may then suggest further investigation such as colonoscopy.
The Medicare Situation: The National Bowel Cancer Programme offers free at-home testing kits to those turning 50, 55, 60 and 65. Over the next 5 years, more Australians will be invited to take the FOBT. From 2017, this will extend to those turning 54 and 56, and between 2018 and 2020, it will also include those turning 52 and 56. If you’re not currently eligible for an FBOT, they can be bought from pharmacies.
The Health Insurance Situation: Some health funds will cover preventative tests on Extras cover and this can extend to bowel screening. You may have to wait up to 6 months as a waiting period. Not all health funds will have this option.
As many as 50 per cent of Australians have some degree of hearing loss, and this becomes more likely as you get older. Your GP can refer you to an audiologist, who can run tests to confirm the degree of hearing loss and look at the possible causes.
The Health Insurance Situation: Health insurance Extras cover can include Audiology services but not all health funds include this on Extras policies so you’ll need to compare options to be sure that you are covered.
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Over to you Lifestylers – do you recommend an insurance provider, and do you think regular health checks are important?