Preventive Care: What You Should Know

Preventive care services include lab tests, screenings, exams, and vaccines. These services can help find health problems early when they often are most treatable, or can keep you from getting certain diseases or illnesses. When and how often you need them will depend on:

  • Your age and gender
  • Any medical conditions you may have
  • Your risk factors

The recommendations listed below are for the general older adult population. You may need different services based upon your overall health. Talk with your doctor about the preventive services that are right for you.

Preventive Service Purpose Who Should Get It How Often
Cardiovascular Screening Test cholesterol, lipid and triglyceride levels; examine for signs of heart disease Everyone Once every five years
Colorectal Screening (fecal occult blood test FOBT) To help find growths in the colon before they become cancerous. Other tests may be necessary depending on your risk factors People age 50 and older Once every 12 months
Diabetes Screening (fasting blood glucose test) Check if blood sugar levels are high, a sign of diabetes People at risk for diabetes Up to two a year depending on screening results
Bone Mass Measurement Detect and treat fragile bones and help prevent fractures People at risk for osteoporosis Once every 24 months
Glaucoma Test Find and treat glaucoma People at high risk for glaucoma Once every 12 months
Flu Shot Prevent the flu Everyone (especially people over age 65 and those with chronic disease) Once each fl u season (fall or winter)
Pneumococcal Shot Prevent pneumonia Everyone (Prevnar 13 is now available for adults) Once in a lifetime
Hepatitis B Shot Prevent Hepatitis B People at risk for Hepatitis B Three shots needed for full protection
Mammogram Find and treat breast cancer early Women age 40 and older (a baseline mammogram should be done between the ages of 35 – 39) Once every 12 months
Pap Test and Pelvic Exam Test for abnormal cells that may turn into vaginal and cervical cancer All women Once every 24 months (more often if at higher risk)
Prostate- Specific Antigen (PSA) Test To screen for prostate cancer Men age 40+ Every 1-2 years
Skin Cancer Screenings To detect skin cancer Everyone Once a year

Adapted from Your Guide to Medicare’s Preventive Services. CMS Publication No. 101110. March 2007.

*Refer to the Medicare and You 2012 Handbook available on for plan restrictions and guidelines.

This information is intended to be educational and should not replace regular medical check-ups or your healthcare provider’s advice. All decisions regarding your care must be made with a healthcare provider, considering your unique health profile.