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Manage your health in your 70s and older

11-minute read

Key facts

  • Ask your doctor about regular cardiovascular health checks.
  • Go for your cancer screening tests when you get the reminders.
  • Have regular sight and hearing checks and falls risk assessment.
  • Aim for a healthy lifestyle by eating well, being active and limiting alcohol and smoking.
  • Have regular dental check-ups and the recommended vaccinations.

Health screening tests

If you are in your 70s or older, there are some things you can do to help manage and prevent health conditions that are more common at this age.

Talk to your doctor about what tests you need, based on your current health and family history. Most healthy people in their 70s or older should have the following tests.

Every year

Every 2 years

Every 3 years

Every 5 years

At regular intervals

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Lifestyle recommendations

Some risk factors can contribute to certain diseases when you are in your 70s or older, including:

  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • cancer

There are things you can do to help you stay healthy.

Quit smoking

You can get support to quit smoking from your doctor, who may also give you nicotine replacement therapy or other medicines to help. Read about how to quit smoking, or try a service such Quitline — 13 7848.

Eat well

It is important to have a balanced diet and to eat well as you move through your 70s.

Try to eat:

  • two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables per day
  • limit amounts of sugar, saturated fat and salt

A healthy diet also includes:

  • grains
  • lean meats, poultry and fish
  • milk, yoghurt and cheese

Limit alcohol

Try to drink no more than:

If you are driving, it is best not to drink.

If you have a condition that can be made worse by alcohol, your doctor may advise you not to drink any alcohol.

Be physically active

If you are generally fit and are reasonably mobile, try to do least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. Moderate-intensity physical activity is an activity that is energetic and raises your heart rate but doesn't make you too breathless. An example of this is fast walking.

Once you are over 70, it is still better to do some physical activity than none at all. You can start exercising and gradually increase:

  • the amount of exercise you do
  • how often you exercise

If you are unsure what kind of activity is safe check with your doctor.

Choose strength, balance and flexibility exercises as well. These will help you to maintain stronger muscles, bones and reduce your risk of falls. These are all important as you get older.

Are you at risk?

Find out if you're at risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes or kidney disease using our Risk Checker.

Preventing health problems

The following health problems may become more common as you get older, especially if you have other risk factors. There are some things you can do in your 70s or older to help prevent these conditions from developing or worsening.:

Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) includes:

You should have an assessment of CVD risk every 5 years unless your doctor already knows you are at risk. Your doctor may:

  • ask you questions
  • test your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • check for other health conditions

You can help prevent CVD by following the healthy lifestyle recommendations above, as well as reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol.

High blood pressure

You should have a blood pressure test every 2 years if your CVD risk is low. Your blood pressure should be checked every 6 to 12 months if you have a moderate risk of CVD. It should be checked every 6 to 12 weeks if your risk is high.

If your blood pressure is high, you will need to follow the lifestyle recommendations to try to reduce it. You may also need to take medicine to help manage your blood pressure.

During your blood pressure check your doctor may check for heart arrhythmia.

Cholesterol and lipids

You should have your cholesterol and lipids checked every 5 years with a blood test. It should be checked every 1 to 2 years if you have a higher risk of CVD.

You can help maintain a healthy cholesterol level with exercise and a healthy diet. You may need to take cholesterol lowering medicine.

Type 2 diabetes

You should be tested every 3 years to see if you have type 2 diabetes, or every 12 months if you are at increased risk. Your doctor will organise a blood test to check your glucose level.

The above exercise, diet and weight recommendations can help prevent type 2 diabetes.


Your doctor may ask you about symptoms and risk factors related to stroke. If you have atrial fibrillation or another reason to be at high risk of a stroke your doctor should assess you every 12 months. Your doctor may recommend medication for any risk factors you may have to reduce the chance of you having a stroke.


As you grow older you are at increased risk of some vaccine-preventable diseases. Some of these diseases can cause serious complications.

Talk to your doctor about whether you need any of the following vaccinations or booster shots:

Kidney disease

If you are at high risk for kidney disease this should be checked every 1 to 2 years. Your doctor will arrange a blood test and a urine test.

Breast cancer

A screening mammogram is recommended every 2 years for females at lower risk from breast cancer until they are 74. Females at higher risk may have an individual program developed by their doctor.

Every female should be familiar with the look and feel of their breasts. See your doctor straight away if you see or feel any unusual changes.

Skin cancer

Your doctor may check your skin when you visit for an appointment for another reason. If you are at high risk for skin cancer you should have a complete skin check every 6 to 12 months.

Ensure that you are SunSmart and protect your skin from future sun damage.

Cervical cancer

If you are a female aged 50 to 74 you should continue to be screened for cervical cancer. The cervical screening test has replaced the Pap test. It detects human papillomavirus (HPV) and is more effective than the Pap test. HPV is a common infection that can lead to cervical cancer.

If you've had a Pap test, your first HPV test should be 2 years after your last Pap test. After that, you only need to have the test every 5 years if your result is normal.

At any age, if you have any symptoms such as pain or vaginal bleeding, you should see your doctor.

Colorectal (bowel or colon) cancer

Your doctor will assess your risk of colorectal cancer. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, they may recommend a colonoscopy.

Otherwise, if you are aged 50 to 74 years, it is recommended to test for bowel cancer using a faecal occult blood test (FOBT) every 2 years.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program will send you a free testing kit every 2 years, once you turn 50. You can take a sample of your faeces (poo) yourself.

Depending on your results, your doctor may recommend that you have a colonoscopy.

Osteoporosis and fracture

Osteoporosis is when bones lose minerals and become more brittle. If you have osteoporosis, you are at increased risk of breaking a bone if you fall.

Your doctor may ask you screening questions every 12 months to assess your risk. You can also use the Know your Bones self-assessment tool. If you have a fracture following a small bump or fall you may need a bone mineral density scan.

To help prevent osteoporosis, have 1,300mg calcium per day if you are aged 70 years or more. This can come from food or supplements. You should also follow the lifestyle recommendations above and get enough vitamin D. Your doctor may also give you medicine to help strengthen your bones.

People over 70 years who have a bone scan may be eligible for a Medicare rebate.

Tooth decay and gum disease

You can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease by:

  • brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
  • using dental floss daily
  • limiting foods and drinks high in acid and sugar, especially between meals
  • visiting a dentist at least once a year


When you are 70 or over, your doctor may assess your risk for falls every year, or every 6 months if you've already had a fall.

You can help prevent falls by following the nutrition and exercise advice above. Your doctor may also give you some exercises to do to reduce your risk of falling. It is useful to review your medicines too.

Vision and hearing

You should have your hearing checked each year by your doctor, or by having a hearing test.

After the age of 65 your eye test is covered by Medicare once per year.

Aged care services

You may be eligible for aged care services if you have:

  • noticed a change in what you can do
  • noticed a change in what you can remember
  • been diagnosed with a medical condition
  • reduced mobility
  • had a change in family care arrangements
  • recently had a fall or
  • recently been in hospital

The types of care available range from help in your home to being supported to move into an aged care home.

To find out if you're eligible for care service, you will need to have an assessment.

The cost of aged care services depends on:

  • the type of care you're eligible to receive
  • the aged care provider you choose
  • your financial situation


If you are in your 70s or older your doctor may ask questions to assess you for dementia. The assessment might discuss your memory and ability to plan.

Resources and support

You can call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available to speak with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Last reviewed: May 2023

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