Do healthy older adults need regular health care visits?
Dear Mayo Clinic: My mother is 81 years old and quite healthy. How often should she see her doctor? What are the routine tests or immunizations she needs as an older adult?
A: There's no hard and fast rule about how often seniors should see their health care providers. For most older adults, though, it's a good idea to have at least one medical checkup a year. At that visit, a provider can review medications, check on health concerns, talk about lifestyle topics and go over recommended tests.
Regular health care visits are the perfect opportunity to go over the medications an older adult takes a key step in maintaining good health. It's important for a health care provider to know about all of a senior's medications, including prescription and nonprescription drugs, dietary supplements, and herbal medications. That way, the provider can identify any that could be interacting with one another, possibly causing health problems, and confirm that the medications are managing chronic illnesses effectively.
Going over any health concerns even if they seem small is also an essential part of a senior checkup. Symptoms such as memory loss, sleep problems, constipation, fatigue or weight loss, for example, could point to underlying health problems that need to be evaluated. Or they might be side effects of medication that could be eliminated with a change in prescription.
Health care providers who see seniors also review lifestyle issues that affect how a person functions day to day. For example, it's important that seniors are able to navigate their environment in a way that allows them to do what they want, interact with others, perform daily tasks without trouble and stay healthy.