We hope that as you age you continue to feel, look and more importantly be healthy. However, as we age our risk for different health problems increases. The good news is Tai Chi helps prevent, manage and treat many conditions. However, the not-so-good-news it is not a magical cure for anything and everyone. Therefore, even though you look and feel great, you should still have regular check ups with your physician. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend the following tests for older adults:
1. Blood Pressure Test: High blood pressure can damage your heart, arteries, eyes and kidneys. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor will make recommendations to control it. You may also do some Tai Chi with his or her approval. Studies have shown that Tai Chi decreases high blood pressure and may even keep your arteries healthy.
2. Colorectal Cancer Screening: Colorectal cancer may be treatable if it is detected sooner than later. “Two out of every 3 new colorectal cancer cases are in adults 65 years of age and older.” For this reason, adults between 50-75 should have regular screenings for colorectal cancer.
3. Cholesterol Screening: High cholesterol can lead to heart disease. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. High cholesterol is also associated with stroke, which is ranked as the 5th cause of death in the U.S. Monitoring your cholesterol will allow you to make lifestyle changes involving diet changes, possible medication and physical activity (hint, hint: Tai Chi).
4. Prostate Cancer Screening: Cancer is the 2nd-leading cause of death in the United States. Males over 50 are encouraged to have an annual prostate exam and screening (prostate sensitive antigen).
5. Mammograms for women: As previously discussed, cancer kills too many of us! Along with self-exams, women between 50-75 should have mammograms every two years and more often for those with certain risk factors identified by a physician (including but not limited to, family history, positive genetic test, etc).
6. Diabetes Screening: Unchecked diabetes can lead to death, comas, and amputations! However, when detected early it can be treated and managed. Tai Chi may help reduce blood sugar and treat neuropathy associated with Diabetes.
7. Vision Screening: As you age your risk for developing macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and other eye diseases increases. “Screening can preserve and maximize your vision. Ask your eye doctor how often you need to have your eyes checked.”
Additionally, poor vision can lead to falls. If you cannot see obstacles, or gauge the size and distance of objects you are more likely to trip or miss steps. Tai Chi can help you combat the fear of falling, strengthen your legs and correct your posture so you won’t fall, but if you cannot see you’ll still be likely to fall. Traumatic brain injuries caused by falls are a leading cause of death in older adults. Additionally, falls are the leading cause of loss of independence among older adults. Older adults who fall or are at risk of falling are more likely to require nursing home housing than those who don’t.
8. Osteoporosis Screening: Women over 65 should have bone density tests to check for Osteoporosis. Several small studies have shown that Tai Chi may increase bone density and reduce age-related bone loss.
We want you to enjoy your life even as you age. Stay active, get tested and always rely on your medical professional to keep you healthy. Do not substitute our recommendations for your physician’s! Get checked out and do some Tai Chi!