May 4, 2021
UPMC Doc: Health Screenings for Your Mom
The best way to show your mom love this Mother’s Day is to make sure she is taking care of her health and wellness. Whether your mom is in her 40s or 90s, there are important health screenings recommended for every stage of her life. While the below serves as a guide, it’s important to note that your mom’s personal health factors will also help determine the timing of each test or screening to best meet her needs.
It’s never too late to start encouraging your mom to build a strong foundation to protect her health in the future. Every year, your mom should see her primary care provider for a general health examination. This will include a height, weight, and blood pressure screening, and an annual immunization check. This would also be a great time to mention any concerns about sleeping habits, a thyroid test, Hepatitis C (HCV) screening, or any mental health concerns. An annual influenza vaccine is also recommended for women of all ages.
In addition to seeing a primary care physician, your mother should schedule a dental, vision, and reproductive health exam annually.
If your mom hasn’t yet scheduled her COVID-19 vaccination, she should do so as soon as possible. Vaccinations are readily available in every community and are critical in helping stop the spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable populations.
Now is the time for your mom to turn the awareness of good health into action. The screenings that began in her 20s will still be completed as she ages, though some may be less or more frequent depending on her health history.
Mammograms are breast x-ray exams that screen breast tissue for abnormalities or variations that could indicate breast cancer or other breast diseases. Women typically start getting mammograms in their late 30s or early 40s, but if there is a history of breast cancer in your family, you may need to be examined sooner.
Colorectal Health Screenings, or colonoscopies, are diagnostic procedures that examine the lining of the large intestine (colon) for abnormalities (polyps). This procedure should begin at age 50, but like mammograms, they may be suggested to your mom at an earlier age if there is a family history of colorectal cancer.
At 65+, your mother should nurture her health for her own wellbeing and to set an important example to generations below her.
A bone densitometry, or bone density scan, is a low dose examination x-ray that determines if you have osteoporosis, or fragile bones. Bone loss often accelerates at this time in life.
Over time, it is common for women to experience loss of hearing. It is important for your mom to have hearing tests, so she does not struggle with conversating with friends and family. This will help her feel less isolated and generally more connected.
Finally, it is advised that women around this age receive the pneumococcal and herpes zoster vaccines. The pneumococcal vaccine helps mitigate diseases such as meningitis and pneumonia. The herpes zoster vaccine helps prevent shingles.