What health checks should elderly people be having?

Staying mentally and physically healthy as we age is incredibly important. Our bodies change as we get older so what may be a perfectly suitable diet in our 50s may not necessarily be suitable when we begin approaching our 90s.

Many people are unaware that there are a number of health checks available for people as they get older to help them get a better understanding of how their body is working in later life. This is a great for relatives who may be concerned about their parents' nutrition, activity levels or just general health to help them get a good idea of lifestyle changes that may be required.

NHS Health Check

Anyone between the ages of 40 and 74 is entitled to a free health check through the NHS as long as you haven't already had a stroke, or been diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes. People already with these conditions aren't included because the checks look to prevent premature death from stroke, heart disease or diabetes by looking for the warning signs. In addition, most people with pre-existing conditions have regular check-ins.

NHS Health Checks are usually done through local GPs and they should be able to give you further information on how to get yourself or a relative signed up to the programme even if they won't be carrying it out themselves. Community pharmacists also sometimes offer this service and should be able to at least point you in the right direction.

During the test, participants will have their blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked, as well as having their height, weight and BMI recorded. The doctor or healthcare professional may give certain recommendations based on the findings of the check-up. The Action Plan may help your relative prepare for the test and give them - and you - a better idea of what to expect.

As NHS Health Checks are run through local authorities, how the test is carried out can vary, but you can easily find the nearest one to your relative and contact them directly. Patients should be invited to a check-up every five years, though people over the age of 74 can ask their GP for health 'MOTs' each year.

Other tests

Local GPs and pharmacists can be great resources if you are concerned about the health and general wellbeing of a relative or yourself. They should be able to give you access to eye tests, blood pressure and cholesterol checks, and assess your risk level for type 2 diabetes and kidney disease.

There are also a number of tests available online if you are concerned about a certain area; for example, the BMI calculator, Heart Age test, and drinking tracker.

Because of the importance of health in elderly care, many of our Barchester homes invite personal trainers and nutritionists in to provide mini checks for residents. Find out what health checks your nearest Barchester home provides for residents here.