It can be overwhelming trying to find a specialist. You might know what’s wrong (or maybe you’re still trying to find an accurate diagnosis, much to your frustration), and you most likely know how you want to feel, but how do you find that person who will provide you with the best care possible? Leading specialists with advanced training, who are passionate about their field of specialty, who listen, are compassionate, and respond to questions in a respectful and timely manner are often found through referrals or an intensive online search. When narrowing down options, make sure to ask questions. Afterall, it is your health you’re advocating for—you deserve the best care possible.
As you evaluate your health, there are different concerns at each stage in life, which you can find broken down into decades here:
In Your 30s:
Men and women in their 30s are able to have it all: A satisfying career, travel adventures, long-term partnerships, and independence. They are hopeful and optimistic. This is the time in many people’s lives when they choose to start a family. For many, though, conceiving becomes a challenge. It’s estimated that one in six parents-to-be will have problems getting pregnant. “There are a number of issues that can contribute to infertility and we need to evaluate all of them,” explains Dr. Nancy Kersey Cooley of Western ObGyn, with a dedicated infertility program to help couples realize their dreams of parenthood.
Not only is a woman’s biological clock ticking, her metabolism is also slowing down—making it harder to burn off that pizza than it was a few years ago. A woman’s metabolism slows by about five percent each decade. If women don’t start exercising now, they’ll find it harder to maintain or lose weight as the years go by.
“We start losing one percent of our muscle every year in our thirties unless we do something to stop or reverse that loss,” explains Judy Beyers, owner of PowerSource Personal Training in Edina. “We need to work that muscle. The fountain of youth really is weight training.”
Weight training can also help build bone strength, a valuable tool in preventing osteoporosis down the road. “As women age—especially after menopause—we lose bone mass,” says Dr. Cooley.
To avoid this, a woman’s diet should include plenty of calcium, vitamin D to help bones maintain density, vitamin C to help absorb calcium, and iron to maintain tissues, bones, and teeth. Tests during this decade include an annual flu shot and cholesterol screening, skin cancer checks, eye exams, and a full gynecological check.
In Your 40s:
Women are no longer building bone mass—they’re slowly losing it—and metabolism is steadily decreasing so it’s harder to keep the weight off. A low-fat diet, weight-bearing exercise, and physical activity can help (it’s never too late to start!) Women in this age group should also schedule annual mammograms and Pap smears (sometimes sooner, depending on family history). An anti-aging skincare routine should include sun protection, retinol products to stimulate cell turnover, the use of antioxidants, and regular exfoliation, says Dr. Barry LaBine, a board-certified dermatologist with Lakewood Dermatology and Refine Dermatique in Sartell. Tests during this decade include regular preventive care, a mammogram, and a vitamin D check. (Vitamin D can fend off diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and help your body fight infection.) Men should schedule a prostrate cancer screening during this decade as well.
In Your 50s:
Men and women in their 50s are in the prime of their lives. An active social life, along with exercise, can help people feeling youthful. Exercise can regulate cholesterol, control weight, strengthen bones, lower cancer risk, ease depression, and for women, minimize some of the unpleasant symptoms of “The Big M”—menopause—which can hit as early as 40 and as late as 60, but happens to most women in their 50s. Procedures during this decade include a colorectal cancer screening, thyroid test, and bone-density scan. A sigmoidoscopy, inspecting the last 12 inches of the large intestine, should be done about every four years after age 50.
60s and Beyond:
Today’s retirees are active participants in their lives, benefiting from good nutrition and exercise (while keeping heart disease, osteoporosis, and some types of cancer at bay), taking classes, learning new hobbies, traveling, volunteering, spending time with their friends and family (chasing after the grandkids), and doing the activities they love. This generation is “younger in spirit” than their mother’s generation, and more likely to push stereotypes and boundaries. Regular trips to the dentist are important—dental health is closely linked with overall health. Gum disease, which becomes more common as you age, has been associated with a higher risk of heart disease. Eating healthy and exercising, as in every decade, are critical to self-care during the retirement years. Exercise helps not only ward off weight gain, but keeps diabetes, heart disease, and dementia in check.
According to a new study by British and U.S. researchers, if people are still physically fit at age 70, they are on average as happy and mentally healthy as a 20-year-old. Many consider retirement the happiest years of their life.