- Annual exams are important for disease prevention and health maintenance for men in their 50s and 60s.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men. At their annual exams, men in their 50s and 60s are screened for heart disease risk factors such as obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have increased in men age 50 and older, so it’s important for men in their 50s and 60s to discuss STI screening and treatment with their primary care clinician.
Men in their 50s and 60s lead busy lives, whether they are still engaged in their careers or transitioning to retirement. Some men in midlife are raising children or helping with grandchildren, and some are beginning to care for elderly parents. In this busy time of life, it’s important for men to pay attention to their health and to be aware of their health risk factors.
Dr. Ghulam Ishaq Khan, a primary care physician at Western Connecticut Medical Group Southbury Primary Care, provides a comprehensive review of health maintenance and screenings for men in their 50s and 60s. This checklist will increase awareness of health issues that can affect men in midlife and will help them maintain healthy lifestyles as they age.
Dr. Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Primary Care Physician, Western Connecticut Medical Group Southbury Primary Care
In the wake of the initial COVID-19 surge, ensuring that men in their 50s and 60s resume routine health screenings and preventive care is another way they can set the stage for a lifetime of health. Patients can expect positive changes during their next visit to a Nuvance Health Medical Practices primary care office. For more information, visit nuvancehealth.org/safecare.
The annual exam is one of the best forms of preventive healthcare for men in their 50s and 60s because health issues can be identified and managed before they get worse.
“This visit also helps men in their 50s and 60s stay on track toward their health goals,” said Dr. Khan, which may include maintaining healthy weight, blood pressure, blood sugar level, and cholesterol level.
Primary care clinicians may order a variety of blood tests and screenings during the annual exam, depending on personal risk factors, family history, age, and lifestyle. Men are twice as likely as women to have a heart attack. Here’s more about heart disease prevention.
In addition to measuring and monitoring physical health, clinicians will also screen men in their 50s and 60s for depression at the annual exam. Depression is a major cause of disability, absenteeism, and loss of productivity among working-age adults.
“Routine, systematic screening can successfully identify adults who are depressed, and their clinicians can direct them to appropriate treatment,” said Dr. Khan.
Although an in-person exam is typically required during an annual physical, men in their 50s and 60s may be able to conveniently access follow-up or sick care services from the comfort of their home using Virtual Visits. For more information, to schedule an appointment, or to find a clinician, visit nuvancehealth.org/virtualvisits.
Men in their 50s and 60s are at increased risk for certain cancers. The good news is, there are screening tests available for many types of cancer:
- Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in men over the age of 50. Screening includes a digital rectal exam and a blood test that checks for levels of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA. However, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concludes that the potential benefits of screening those aged 55 to 69 have not outweighed the possible harms of screening. Individuals should decide whether to be screened after discussing the benefits and risks with their healthcare clinician.
- Screening for colorectal cancer begins at age 50, or earlier if a patient has risk factors that increase their chances of developing the disease.
- The USPSTF recommends annual lung cancer screening for adults aged 55 to 80 if they currently smoke, have a history of smoking an average of a pack a day for 30 years (called “30 pack year”), or quit smoking within the last 15 years. Here’s more information about screening for lung cancer.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening
The USPSTF recommends that all men between ages 65 and 75 who have ever smoked get an ultrasound to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), even if there are no symptoms.
Smoking is the most important risk factor linked to AAA. For patients who are ready to quit, healthcare clinicians can offer counseling and medications to help patients succeed.
Men in their 50s and 60s should be up-to-date on certain vaccines:
- The Tdap vaccine is a combination of vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Adults aged 19 to 64 receive a single dose of Tdap, then a Td booster every 10 years.
- The flu vaccine is recommended every year before the start of the flu season.
- A pneumonia vaccine is recommended for patients with asthma, who smoke, or are older than 65 to prevent lung infections.
- Two doses of the shingles vaccine are recommended for those aged 50 and older, with the second dose occurring two to six months after the first dose.
- Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for patients who are diabetic or immunosuppressed, who work in healthcare, or who live in group environments such as a nursing home.
Testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections
Cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in adults over the age of 50 have increased since the 2000s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People who are sexually active may be at risk for diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, genital herpes, genital warts, and hepatitis B. These diseases are often asymptomatic, so it’s important to get tested and receive prompt treatment to avoid health complications and the risk of infecting a sexual partner.
Vision and Hearing
Adults aged 50 to 64 should have a vision screening every one to three years. Patients who have diabetes should have an eye exam every year to check for signs of diabetic retinopathy. Those at increased risk for glaucoma should have eye exams every two years.
Hearing loss is also a concern in midlife, and annual hearing screenings are recommended.
“Noise-induced hearing loss is a significant, often unrecognized health problem among adults in the United States,” said Dr. Khan.
Nearly all adults aged 50 to 64 have some dental issues, including tooth decay, missing teeth, or filled permanent teeth. Many adults show signs of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, which can be associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or stroke.
“Oral health is often overlooked and neglected, particularly as adults age,” said Dr. Khan. “It’s important for men in their 50s and 60s to visit the dentist every six months for a routine dental exam and cleaning.”
According to the USPSTF, skin cancer of any type occurs more often in men than women, especially those with fair skin. Men in their 50s and 60s should alert their healthcare clinician if they notice unusual changes to their skin.
The Bottom Line
Men in their 50s and 60s can be proactive about their health by participating in an annual exam. These visits with their healthcare clinicians will allow them to receive important screenings for health issues that are more common in this stage of life.
This health checklist is a great starting point to prepare men for what they may expect health-wise when they’re in their 50s and 60s. But remember, everyone is unique. Men should speak with their healthcare clinician about their own personal health history, family health history, race/ethnicity, and lifestyle to know what types of screenings, tests, and support makes sense for them.
To schedule an appointment with a Western Connecticut Medical Group primary care clinician, visit our website or call (203) 739 4700.
Amy Forni, Manager, Public Relations
(203) 739 7478 | Amy.Forni@nuvancehealth.org