Health Screening for the Elderly

September, 2012 TSG_PTIMG_HealthScreen

Many GP surgeries run a variety of preventive medicine clinics for the elderly. Their aim is to assess your general health and your risk of a variety of diseases common in old age, and to give advice on how to prevent them.

The checks may include:

  • Weight and body mass index (BMI) assessment
  • Blood pressure
  • Eye check for signs of diabetes, glaucoma and high blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels and electrocardiogram (ECG) to assess your risk of heart disease
  • Urine and blood sugar measurement to test for diabetes, along with liver and kidney function blood tests
  • Breast examination and advice on self-examination
  • Cervical smear to detect pre-cancerous changes
  • Examination or scan for ovarian cystsProstate assessment and advice
  • Testicular examination
  • Chest x-ray
  • DEXA scans to assess your risk of osteoporosis

Many private hospitals also offer extensive health checks, including a full physical examination, blood tests and other tests, such as an ECG, chest x-ray, mammogram or DEXA, where appropriate.

Going into hospital
If your GP wants to refer you for a specific test or procedure, it’s worth considering which hospital you’d like to attend. NHS Choices has information about different hospitals online. Your GP or specialist may also be able to give you this information, as well as advice sheets for when you’re discharged.┬áCall or visit your local hospitals to see what they offer and what you can expect if you’re admitted, especially if you’re seeking particular specialties.
Social security benefits can be affected if you’re in hospital for more than four weeks. Contact your local benefit office for more details.

Coming out of hospital
The elderly are known to cope less well with illness and it can take longer to get over even simple surgery.
If possible, plan ahead before you’re admitted to hospital:

  • Think about what sort of respite support you might need when you’re discharged and arrange for help with the cooking, cleaning and shopping.
  • Leave the house tidy, with pre-made food in the fridge or freezer, even if there’s someone at home to look after you.
  • You may need more time off work than you expect, so allow for convalescence.
  • You may not be fit to drive for a while, so get a friend to help or work out whether you can use public transport or taxis instead.
  • You may have difficulty getting upstairs when you first get home, so consider whether it’s possible to have a bed downstairs.

If hospital staff think you’ll need more care when you leave hospital, they may ask the local authority to assess your needs.

Treatment concerns
If you have any concerns about the treatment you’ve received that can’t be resolved with your GP or hospital, you can contact the Independent Complaints Advocacy Service.┬áThe Patients Association provides advice on your rights, access to health services, self-help groups and complaints procedures.

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