Manage Your Health
Explains our recommended screenings to prevent disease, how to avoid and manage chronic disease, and prevent falls.
Includes personal history, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), preventive screening, and counseling
Colonoscopy at age 50 and then every 10 years, or annual fecal occult blood test (FOBT) plus sigmoidoscopy every five years, or sigmoidoscopy every five years, or double-contrast barium enema every five years
Annual total skin exam at discretion of clinician
Breast Cancer (Women)
Annual clinical breast exam and monthly self-exam
Annual mammogram at discretion of clinician
Cervical Cancer (Women)
Initial Pap test at three years after first sexual intercourse, or by age 21
Pap test every 1-3 years, depending on risk factors
Testicular and Prostate Cancer (Men)
Annual digital rectal exam (DRE) or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test at discretion of clinician
Other Recommended Screenings
Body Mass Index (BMI)
At discretion of clinician (can be screened annually; consult the CDC's growth and BMI charts for weight and eating disorder guidelines)
Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
At every acute/non-acute medical encounter and at least once every two years. See how you can take control of your health and manage your blood pressure with these
Every five years or more often at discretion of clinician
Diabetes (Type 2)
Every three years, beginning at age 45, or more often and beginning at a younger age at discretion of clinician
Bone Mineral Density (BMD)
BMD testing for all post-menopausal women who have one or more risk factors for osteoporosis fractures
Infectious Disease Screening
Sexually Transmitted Infections (Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and HPV)
Annual screenings for sexually active patients under 25 and for at-risk patients age 25 and over; HPV vaccine is for women age 26 and under, if not previously vaccinated
Eye Exam for Glaucoma
Every 1-2 years
Hearing and Vision Assessment
At discretion of clinician
Tetanus, Diphtheria (Td)
Three doses if not previously immunized
Booster every 10 years; one booster during adulthood should be with the adult dTaP (tetanus booster with acellular pertussis) vaccine
Once after age 65, even if previously vaccinated
One or more doses if not previously immunized, depending on risk factors and other indicators
Varicella (Chicken Pox)
Two doses given at or after age 13 if susceptible
What Is Chronic Disease?
A chronic disease is a condition that affects your health and can be controlled but not cured. Allergies, Alzheimer's, asthma, breast cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are examples of chronic diseases. Often patients have more than one chronic disease. The good news is that many chronic diseases can be prevented, and, if you have one, it can be effectively controlled. Please be sure to see your doctor regularly.
How Do I Avoid a Chronic Disease?
To avoid a chronic disease or to make one easier to live with, start by making some lifestyle changes:
Eliminate all tobacco products
All tobacco products put you at a higher risk for chronic illness. As soon as you stop using tobacco, your body begins to recover from its harmful effects. Learn more about eliminating tobacco products.
Eat a heart-healthy diet
A heart-healthy diet is one that includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, non-fat or low-fat dairy products, and lean meats, fish, and poultry. Try to increase the amount of fiber and nutrients you eat, and limit your fat, calorie, and salt intake to a moderate amount. Generally, nutritionists suggest that you should get about 30 percent of your calories from fat, preferably unsaturated fats like olive, canola, and vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, and peanuts. If you have other dietary restrictions, such as diabetes or low salt, try these tasty recipes.
Follow an appropriate exercise program
Exercise can help you prevent or cope with a health challenge. The right exercise program can give you more energy and increases your strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination—plus it can help ease pain and improve your sleep and outlook.
Ask your doctor to help you find an exercise program that's right for you. For specific tips read Exercise Ideas for Older Adults.
Learn to manage stress
Stress is part of life; it's our body's way of protecting us from a perceived threat. However, if stress goes on for too long, it can accelerate the aging process. Some ways to cope with stress include taking care of yourself, getting regular exercise, sharing your feelings, and learning how to relax. Find out more about managing stress.
Get enough sleep
Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults: seven to nine hours per night, on average, says the National Institute of Aging. If you're having trouble getting enough sleep at night, read about common sleep disorders and talk to you doctor.
Falls Are Preventable
For many older Americans, a fall can be a life-changing event, resulting in broken bones, pain, depression, and possibly even recuperation in a nursing home.
One in Three Will Fall
Did you know that one in three Americans, age 65 or older, will fall down this year? And that the risk of falling increases with age? If you've fallen in the past, you're at higher risk for falling again. For your own health and safety, if you do take a tumble, it's important to inform your doctor.
Talk to Your Doctor About Your Medications
Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your current list of prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines to find out if any increase your risk for falls.
Be aware that alcohol interacts with many medications, potentially increasing the negative side effects.
Get Regular Vision Exams
Have your eyes examined annually; poor vision can raise your risk for falls.
Be sure your eyeglasses are clean, in good repair, and the correct prescription strength.
Wear sunglasses to cut down on glare.
Make Your Home Safe
Remove throw rugs and secure rugs to the floor with double-sided tape and put non-slip mats in the tub and shower.
Install handrails on both sides of the stairway and grab bars in the toilet and shower areas.
Use extra lighting in dark areas; put nightlights in hallways, stairways, bedrooms, and bathrooms.
Move items you frequently use (glasses and plates) to lower shelves in your cabinets.
Wear proper-fitting shoes with firm, non-skid soles; avoid loose-fitting slippers and sandals.
Exercise to improve your strength, balance, and overall health.
Ask your doctor about the best type of exercise for your fitness level. Consider weight-bearing exercise, including weight-lifting and walking, as well as yoga or tai chi.
Drink water regularly so you don't get dehydrated, which could lead to falling.
Call Keep Moving to learn how you can join an organized walking program for people over age 50.
Visit Keep Moving or call 1-617-624-5972 (TTY: 1-617-624-5992).
Download this factsheet or visit the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services for additional tips and resources on fall prevention.
What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary Incontinence (UI) is the loss of urine control. Symptoms can vary from slight leakage of urine, to not having any control, or feeling strong urges to urinate. The problem can be short- or long-term, and is often caused by other health issues, such as bladder infections. UI is not a normal part of aging, but is more common in older people.
Types of Urinary Incontinence:
- Stress Incontinence—The most common form of incontinence. It occurs when movements such as exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing, and lifting heavy objects put pressure on the bladder.
- Urge Incontinence—When the need to urinate comes on very quickly. Often, not being able to get to a restroom in time. It may be a sign that conditions, like diabetes, stroke, dementia, Parkinson's disease, urinary tract infections, or an overactive bladder need attention.
- Functional Incontinence—When you have urine control, but can't get to a restroom in time. Sometimes due to conditions, such as arthritis, that make it hard to move.
- Overflow Incontinence—Small amounts of urine leak due to an over-filled bladder. It may feel like you can't fully empty your bladder.
- Mixed incontinence—Having more than one type of urinary incontinence.
Causes Of Urinary Incontinence in older adults
- Issues related to certain diseases or medicines
- Urinary tract infection
- An enlarged prostate or treatment of a prostate problem
- Stool build-up in the bowels
- Spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis
- Overactive bladder
- Pain when filling the bladder or urinating
- Stream of urine gets weaker and weaker
- Urinating more often
- Needing to rush to the restroom or not making it in time
- Abnormal urination or changes related to stroke, spinal cord injury, or multiple sclerosis
- Consistent urine leakage
- Frequent bladder infections
If you're experiencing any symptoms, talk to your doctor about urinary incontinence. They may refer you to a urologist or urogynecologist that specializes in urinary tract diseases.
Types of Treatments
1. Behavioral Therapies to Regain Bladder Control
- Bladder Training—Teaches you to resist the urge to over-empty your bladder by going to the bathroom too often.
- Toilet Scheduling—Using a routine or scheduled toileting, habit training schedules, and prompted voiding to empty the bladder every 2 to 4 hours to prevent leaking.
2. Pelvic Muscle Rehab to Prevent Leakage
- Kegel Exercises—Pelvic exercises can strengthen the bladder muscles to improve, and even prevent, urinary incontinence. Women should perform them 30 to 80 times daily for at least 8 weeks.
- Biofeedback—Learning how to relax and control stress can help you control your pelvic muscles and body functions. Best results when practiced with Kegel exercises.
- Vaginal Weight Training—Tighten vaginal muscles using small weights held within the vagina for 15 minutes, twice a day, for 4 to 6 weeks.
- Electrical Stimulation Therapy—Mild electrical pulses stimulate muscle contractions in the pelvis. Combine with Kegel exercises for best results.
3. Other Treatments
- Diet changes
- Adult incontinence products (diapers and pads)