What to expect in your 70s

Living in the 70’s was a massive hit for the Skyhooks, but the age is a lot less glamourous than living in the decade.

There are a number of health conditions and problems that will become more common when you are in your 70s, but there are activities you can undertake to help prevent these conditions from developing.

Here is a helpful list of the potential conditions and what you should be doing now to prepare.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD)
You should have an assessment of CVD risk every two years once you are in your 70s, unless your doctor already knows you are high risk. Your doctor may ask you questions and test your blood pressure and cholesterol as well as checking for other health conditions.

High blood pressure
You should have a blood pressure test every two years, or six to 12 months if you have a moderate risk of CVD and every six to 12 weeks if your risk is high.

Other ways to prevent high blood pressure include:

  • maintaining a waist measurement of less than 94cm for men and less than 80cm for women
  • limiting salt to 5mg per day, or 4mg per day if you have high blood pressure – this tool will help you check the amount of salt in processed food.

It’s recommended you have your cholesterol and lipids checked every five years with a blood test, or every one to two years if you have a higher risk of CVD. You can help maintain a healthy cholesterol level with exercise and a healthy diet.

You should be tested every three years to see if you have type 2 diabetes, or every 12 months if you are at increased risk. Your doctor will organise a blood test to check your glucose level.

Kidney disease
Kidney disease should be assessed every one to two years, if you are at high risk. Risk factors can be similar to CVD or could involve an injury to your kidney. Your doctor may ask you a series of questions as well as checking your blood pressure and doing a urine test. You may need to take medicine to lower your blood pressure if it is high.

Bowel cancer
Every two years, it is recommended you have a test for bowel cancer using a Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), even if you have no symptoms or family history of bowel cancer. You can stop testing when you are 74 if the tests have been clear. Your doctor will advise you if you should keep testing after that time.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program will send you a free FOBT every four years until you are 74. In 2020, this will occur every two years. With the FOBT you can take a sample of your faeces (poo) yourself.

Depending on your results, your doctor may recommend that you have a colonoscopy.

Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals and become more brittle, putting them at risk of fractures.

Your doctor may ask you screening questions every 12 months to assess your risk. If you experience a fracture following a small bump or fall, this should be investigated further. This involves a simple scan with a machine, taking around 10 to 15 minutes. People over 70 who have a bone scan may be eligible for a Medicare rebate.

To help prevent osteoporosis, ensure you have 1300mg of calcium per day (if you are a woman) while men should consume 1000mg per day.

Tooth decay and gum disease
You can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease by:

  • brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • spitting out the toothpaste, not rinsing
  • using dental floss
  • limiting foods and drinks high in acid and sugar
  • visiting a dentist every 12 months, or more if required.

When you are 70 or over, your doctor may assess your risk for falls every year, or every six months if you’ve already had a fall. If needed, your doctor may also give you special exercises to reduce your risk of falling, help you with aids at home, as well as reviewing any medicines that could make you unsteady.

Vision and hearing
You should have a hearing test each year and, if you and your doctor think you need it, an eye test.

What health tests do you do regularly now that you are in your 70s?

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Written by Ben


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