Women's Health: Things to know in your 50s

Checkups important during mid-life changes

INDIANAPOLIS -  

Women in their 50s should follow a specific checklist for routine medical exams tailored for mid-life body changes, doctors say.

IU Health chief medical officer Dr. Lynda Smirz said it is important to maintenance the body as it goes through changes.

"It's kind of like a car that you've had for a long period of time. You really still like the car, but it takes a little bit longer to start in the morning and you have to do more maintenance," Smirz said.

In addition to the standard gynecological, blood work and mammogram exams, Smirz said women in their 50s should also get a thyroid test, a bone density check, a stress test after menopause and a colonoscopy.

Smirz also added regular visits to the dermatologist to the list.

"The dermatologist will look for any moles that may be changing and any areas where skin cancer may have developed," she said.

Smirz said she knows women in their 50s are sandwiched between growing demands with grandkids and aging parents.

"You don't have time not to take care of yourself," Smirz said. "I've gone every year consistently since I was in my 20s and everything checked out okay. But then you get to 50 and you start to look at things differently."

Denise Elrod is in her 50s and says she hasn't seen a doctor in nearly three years.

"I feel like I need to get to the doctor, but right now my husband and I are in transition and I don't have any health insurance. So, I'm kind of putting it off," Elrod.

Even with rising health care costs, doctors say that women can't afford to skip checkups.

"There's no way you're going to catch it unless you're being examined regularly," Smirz said.

For some routine checkups including Pap smears and mammograms, many health care facilities may offer discounts for non-insured patients. 

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