Take the time to safeguard your health

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Take time now to get your annual flu shot and recommended screenings for chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. (Stock image)

September is Healthy Aging Month. What better time to take steps to safeguard your health?

Plan now to get the services that help prevent disease and illness, such as vaccines, screenings and counseling. Vaccines are effective in preventing diseases while screenings may detect disease in an early stage when medical treatment and lifestyle changes can be most effective. Screenings can also help identify conditions that put you at increased risk for disease -- knowledge you can act on to help improve and protect your health.


An annual flu shot is now recommended for everyone in the United States older than 6 months. It's especially important for people 65 or older, pregnant women, and those with certain medical conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease). It is also strongly recommended for health care providers and caregivers.

A single immunization against pneumonia is recommended for all adults 65 or older. It is also recommended for those at high risk for certain diseases (e.g., sickle cell disease, HIV infection) and for adults 19 to 64 who smoke cigarettes or have asthma.

Screening and counseling

As people age, the risk for developing chronic diseases and conditions increases. Screening for high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, colorectal cancer, breast cancer and diabetes can help save lives and detect disease even when there may be no symptoms. Screening can bring peace of mind to those who have no sign of disease. Others who have a positive test result gain the knowledge and opportunity they need to seek treatment and change health-related habits sooner rather than later, when the condition is most treatable.

Talking with your health care provider regarding concerns about emotional problems, tobacco use, obesity, and excessive use of alcohol also is important so that he or she can provide appropriate counseling and referral as needed.

Age, gender and health status can make a difference in which services you need and how often.

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