Medical Screening Guidelines

The National Institutes of Health recommends the following medical screenings guidelines, tests and checkup schedule for adults over the age of 65. Your primary health care provider offers the following screenings:


  • Have a yearly physical exam.
  • Visit the dentist every year.
  • Have an eye exam every 2 years and make sure you are tested for glaucoma.
  • Have your hearing tested every year.

Blood pressure screening

  • Have your blood pressure checked every year.
  • If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems or certain other conditions, you may need to be watched more closely.

Cholesterol screening

  • If your cholesterol level is normal, have it rechecked every 3-5 years.
  • If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems or certain other conditions, you may need to be monitored more closely.

Colon cancer screening

Guidelines call for a stool test every year, a colonoscopy every 10 years or a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years. If you have risk factors for colon cancer, you may need a colonoscopy more often. Discuss with your primary care doctor.


  • Get a pneumococcal vaccine if you have never had before, or if you received one at age 60 or younger.
  • Get a flu shot every year.
  • Get a tetanus -diphtheria booster every 10 years.
  • A shingles vaccination may be given once after age 60.


  • All men should discuss prostate cancer screening with their primary health care provider.
  • Men between ages 65-75 who have smoked should have an ultrasound done once to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysm.
  • All men over age 70 should have a bone density test.


  • Continue your monthly breast self-exam. Contact your primary care doctor immediately if you notice a change in your breasts.
  • A complete breast exam should be done by a primary health care provider every year.
  • You should have a mammogram to check for breast cancer every 1-2 years depending on risk factors.
  • All women should have at least one bone density test.
  • Your schedule for Pap smears may change. If your Pap tests have been normal for three years in a row, your PCP may tell you to be tested every 2-3 years rather than every year.
  • If you are over 70 and your Pap smears have been negative for an extended period (10 years), discuss with your doctor about discontinuing the testing.
  • Women who have had a total hysterectomy may choose not to have Pap smears. Discuss this with your doctor.

Related Riverside Health System information