Black Boomers: Six Screening Tests to Consider


Boomer women appear to have increased risk factors for certain health conditions. Regular screenings and testing can help to detect and treat problems in the early stages.  If you are a black woman 50 years of age and over, here are 6 screening tests that you should consider.

1. Bone Density Testing

Osteoporosis is more common in women after the menopause. It causes bone loss, brittle bones, and increases the risk for fractures. Bone density testing determines the mineral content of the bones. Osteoporosis can be treated through weight-bearing exercises, calcium rich diets and medication.

2. Vitamin D test

Vitamin D can be obtain naturally from sunshine. As we age our bodies become unable to effectively manufacture this vitamin. Vitamin D helps to protect us from infections, cancer and osteoporosis. The level of vitamin D is checked by a blood test and treatment measures may include changes in diet and vitamin D supplements. This test is recommended for women age 40 years and over with risk factors for osteoporosis.

3. Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)

This blood test checks for the presence of invisible blood in the stool. Early signs of colon cancer may be detected through this test. It is also used to check for other diseases of the intestines. This test may be first done at age 50, and then annually if there are any risk factors. Other tests include colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy. It is important to note that more women are diagnosed with advanced colon cancer than men.

4. Hearing test (audiogram)

By age 60 many people have hearing loss. If you are having problems hearing conversations or understanding what is going on around you, it may be time to get tested. Your ears should be tested by an otolaryngologist (physician) and an audiologist (hearing specialist).  It is recommended that you have a hearing test at least every 10 years up to age 50, and every 3 years afterwards.

5. Body Mass Index (BMI)

Obesity increases the risk for heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Body mass index measures your weight in relation to your height. You should be weighed at least annually by your doctor and follow any recommendations for weight management.

6. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD.s)

If you are sexually active, beginning a new relationship, or have multiple partners, you may be at increased risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease. You should be tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV. You should discuss testing with a health care professional.


Harriette Barker Ph. D, RN


Black Boomers and Vaccinations

There is an old saying once a man and twice a child.   This may apply to Boomers who need to make sure that their vaccinations (shots) are current. If you think that shots are only for the grandchildren, think again. Many adults are familiar and compliant with taking the annual flu shot, but are unaware of other recommended vaccinations.

Need for immunization

Your vaccinations may need to be updated because:

  • Protection may decrease or fade over time.
  • Newer vaccines are now available
  • Aging increases the risk of contracting infections e.g.pneumonia and the flu
  • Some adults were never vaccinated


The following vaccinations are recommended for persons 50 years of age and older.


Hepatitis A is spread through eating or drinking contaminated food or water, or contact with someone who is infected. Two doses of the vaccine are given over a 6 – 18 month period.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B (HepB)  is spread through contact with the blood or body fluid of someone who is infected. It is especially recommended for health care workers and other high-risk-persons. Three injections are given over a six months period.


You are encouraged to get this vaccine during fall or winter to reduce your risk of getting the flu and infecting others. Because of different strains of the flu, immunization has to be repeated each year.

Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)

These vaccines are given during childhood. One dose of the vaccine is usually given. However, persons fifty eight years of age and over may need a second dose.

Pneumococcal (PPSV23)

The pneumococcal vaccines PCV 13 and PPSV23 protect against pneumonia. Adults 65 years of age and older are encouraged to have these immunizations. PCV 13 is given as 1 lifetime dose. PPV23 is given 6-12 months later and may require one or more doses.

Tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis)

(Tdap, Td)

Tdap contains the whooping cough vaccine, while Td (tetanus and diphtheria) does not. Adults are encouraged to be vaccinated, if they did not get it as a child. This is a one-time vaccine, but a Td booster is required every 10 years.

Herpes Zoster (shingles) – The shingles vaccination is recommended for persons 60 years of age and over, especially if they previously had chicken pox. It is a one- time vaccine.

Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b)

Adults 60 years of age and older with high risk health conditions should get a one-time dose of this vaccine.


You may question the risks, benefits and safety of these vaccinations. According to health experts they offer lifetime protection.

IMPORTANT: You should discuss the need for immunizations with your health care provider.

Harriette Barker, Ph. D, RN

Online Dating Tips


You never thought that you would be on the dating scene again but life happens. Divorce, separation, widowhood all bring us to the place where we are out there looking for that partner. The problem for many of us is that the dating experience has changed. There is a new approach to meeting and dating.


When you were younger it was easy to attend a church social, an event sponsored by a club or organization, where you were sure to meet a bunch of guys. Maybe your friend introduced you to her brother or cousin. The day of the church social is long gone. Today social media is becoming the fastest way to connect. Sixty percent of boomers use social media sites, to keep in touch with family and friends. If you have never used one of these sites or find it difficult to do so, you can try learning.


Getting back into the swing of things by signing up to an online dating site can be challenging. You are communicating with a picture and a profile without knowing the real person. Many of the top online dating sites such as offer guidelines for safety, but like everything else you are responsible for your own safety. Although meeting Jack the Ripper may be a low possibility, you never know who is posting on these dating sites.

So here are some tips to get you back into the game:

  1. Security. Check out your site – Do an online search of various sites. Ask friends to suggest one that they have used. Look for these certifications – Hacker –Safe or TrustE which prove that the site is compliant with privacy guidelines.

2.  CAUTION – Do not give out your personal information until you have decided to meet and feel that you can trust the person. On your first date you should meet in a public place or even bring a friend. Drive yourself to the date or take a cab, and go home the same way. Remember the old rule – DO NOT GO ANYWHERE WITH STRANGERS.

3.  Your Profile – Honesty is the best policy.  Do not lie about your age, profession or your accomplishments. Think carefully about the qualities that you are looking for. Post your best photo.  Most of all be realistic

4. Focus on the positive. Be sure to boost your good traits and describe some positive things that you can bring to the relationship.

5.Reality check – The qualities that you loved most in your former spouse or partner may be irreplaceable. When looking for someone new try not to compare, but look for uniqueness in each person.

6 Take your time. There is no rush. Enjoy looking at different profiles and chatting with different people until you feel comfortable.

Harriette Barker, Ph.D, RN

Hepatitis C and Black Baby Boomers


As baby boomers we have a long health care to- do- list. Now it is time to add another one. Hepatitis C, a serious liver infection also known as the “Silent Killer.” There are no early warning signs, and the disease lays dormant for years, quietly destroying the liver. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) seventy five percent of baby boomers (persons born between 1945 and 1965) are infected with this disease.

Many black boomers may feel that they have not been exposed to this disease. They may have been infected during their teens or early twenties, when infection control procedures and blood screening were not standardize. Participating in high risk sexual behaviors may also contribute.

Risk Factors:

  • Sharing needles for Injecting illegal drugs or inhaling with straws
  • Having tattoos or body piercings in unhygienic environments
  • Having a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
  • Receiving dialysis treatments
  • Exposure to needle sticks from infected persons
  • HIV infected persons
  • Unprotected sex with multiple partners
  • Having sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s)

Important Facts for Black/African Americans

  • The CDC has developed a fact sheet on this disease for Black/African Americans
  •  Twenty two percent of African Americans have chronic Hepatitis C
  • Hepatitis C may result in chronic liver disease resulting in death for persons 45-64 years of age
  • African Americans lack testing for this condition
  • Unlike Hepatitis B, there is no available vaccine
  • Approximately 26 Americans die each day from Hepatitis C complications
  • Over one hundred and seventy thousand new cases are reported each year.


The CDC has recommended a one-time screening to rule out Hepatitis C infection for all baby boomers. Testing should be done for those persons with risk factors or symptoms of the disease. Although there is no vaccine currently available, this condition can be managed with medication.

Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention –

Harriette Barker, Ph.D, RN