That can serve as a checklist for retirees. A "Welcome to Medicare" physical is also available in the first 12 months after beginning the program, and annual "wellness" visits are also covered. They provide a chance for your primary-care doctor to review what tests and screenings might be recommended, Duritz says.

The amount of flexibility you might want in seeing specialists will also determine the type of Medicare that's the best fit.

And older people should probably consider an evaluation by a geriatrician once they reach their 80s, or sooner if they have complicated health issues.

"It's a good idea to make sure something isn't being missed," Gambert says.

Teeth and eyes

There are some procedures one should especially consider before retirement because of Medicare limits: dental and vision.

Unless you have retiree dental benefits, it's a good idea to complete dental work before you retire, including exams, X-rays, fillings and restorative work and cleanings, says Janet Yellowitz, University of Maryland School of Dentistry's director of geriatric dentistry.

You'll also need to factor dental visits into your retirement budget.

Twice-a-year exams are ideal. Once a year is the absolute minimum, says Yellowitz. "That doesn't mean once every three years," she says.

Nerves around teeth are less sensitive as we age, Yellowitz says. "The good news is, as you age, you don't get as much dental pain. The bad news is, you can have disease and not know it."

Too often, people think if nothing hurts, there's no problem. "High blood pressure doesn't hurt either," she says. "That doesn't mean you don't need to treat it."

That's also true of vision — problems can begin before symptoms appear, says Dr. Yassine Daoud, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a cornea specialist at the Wilmer Eye Institute.

"It's very important to get a complete eye exam in your 60s," he says. "A lot of diseases start showing up then."

If cataract surgery is needed, patients can opt for a premium lens, which also corrects other vision problems and may eliminate the need for glasses, says Daoud, who recommends seeing a cornea specialist so that you have a full range of options.

A refractive lens exchange is another option, he says.

Some of these procedures will be considered elective by Medicare and insurance companies.

Another warning: patients occasionally complain that they have more wrinkles after surgery — only because they can now see them, Daoud says with a chuckle.

Consider recovery time

Whether you're considering a surgery during a slow time at work, or after retirement, be sure to factor in the recovery time.

Anita Redding, a retired emergency room nurse, wanted to go on a cruise with her friends in February. So she made sure to allow for the time she'd spend in a brace when she planned her back fusion surgery in October.

"I went on a big ship — there was a lot of walking," says Redding, 79. "But I was up to it."

She continues to work on her recovery in physical therapy. "I'm building up my endurance. … It can be a year because nerves are slow to heal."

John Kingsmore suffered from pain in his shoulder but put off surgery until the pain was severe.

After a total shoulder replacement, Kingsmore plays golf several times a week, and travels with his wife.

"It was a mistake to wait," says the 77-year-old former president of Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville. "I wish I had done it earlier in my retirement."