Most of us tend to avoid doctors and health checks in our younger years unless there is some specific reason to book an appointment.

But when we reach 50 or so (and have been lucky enough to stay healthy) it is definitely time to schedule some health checks. Much as we hate to admit it our bodies are not what they once were.

Normal wear and tear occurs, particularly if you (like me) have played a lot of sport.  Some of you know that I had a back operation (a discectomy) about 30 years ago, so my back requires a lot of care and on-going treatment. I attend Andrew Smith at The Willows Clinic and Dr Patrick Leahy at The Laser Centre. This allowed me to continue playing tennis until three years ago and to take up golf!

But as we age we sometimes need more help in staying healthy.

We all know that a healthy lifestyle is the single most important factor in ensuring that we stay in good health into old age.

That means:

1 Eating a varied diet with plenty of vegetables.

2 Cutting out processed foods for the most part.

3 Cutting down on sugar in the diet.

4 Keeping our weight in check.

5 Exercising several times a week. A brisk walk is as good as anything.

women running

However, we can be predisposed genetically to diseases.

I have written before about BONE HEALTH and DEXA SCANS and my previous diagnosis a few years ago with borderline osteopina. My mother has osteporosis.

And I have also written about my SKIN CANCER SCARE.

In today’s post I want to bring you up to date with



In Ireland, women are currently offered free mammograms every two years between the ages of 50 to 64 but according to the HSE website, it is hoped to extend that free service to women up to the age of 69 by 2021. The risk of breast cancer increases with age and ‘breast screening allows earlier detection and detection of tumours when smaller and at an earlier stage affords a better prognosis’, according to Professsor Ann O’Doherty.

Check you are on the register online at


Ireland has been rocked by the recent scandal surrounding ‘smear tests’ and the fatal misdiagnosis for many women. But it is important that women still go for their checks. A cervical screening test is a way of detecting abnormal cells in the cervix. Early diagnosis can help save lives.

These checks are free for women in Ireland between 25 and 60 years of age and are recommended every three years if you are under 45 and every 5 years after that.


If you are between 60 and 69, you can avail of a free home test every two years. Bowel screening can detect changes in the bowel before cancer develops, so it really is a no-brainer.

You receive a letter asking you to register and then a home-testing kit is sent out to you. I completed my first one last year and it is very simple to use and results are back within four weeks. If there is some blood detected, you are offered a colonoscopy organised by BowelScreen.

It is the third most common cancer in women in Ireland (while it is the second most common in men).

Unfortunately, there is a very low take-up on bowel screening here, perhaps because some people are embarrassed by it. We don’t like talking about bodily functions, such as our bowel motions or anything related to it.

It is funny because my grandson of nearly 3 is fascinated by the word ‘poo’ and tries to include it in every conversation!

Obviously, if you have any of the following symptoms you should see your doctor immediately.


  • Bleeding from the rectum or in your poo (this could also be haemorrhoids)
  • A change in bowel habits
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme unexplained tiredness
  • Stomach pain or a lump in your stomach

Check below to see if your name is included at:

Freephone 1800 45 45 55

In fact, some doctors recommend regular colonoscopies to their patients over 60 as a matter of course.

I hope you are all blessed with good health. But remember, you must take responsibility for your own health and a good starting point is with the (above) free health checks. Until next time.

Hilda x