Most Common Health Concerns for Today’s Seniors
Getting older often brings with it serious health challenges. Fortunately, some simple steps can be taken to decrease the likelihood of illness and injury. However, to stay healthy, seniors must first be aware of the risks. Here are the nine most common health concerns that most senior adults face today.
Arthritis is perhaps the most debilitating disease people aged 65 and older face. The CDC estimates that around 49.7 percent of all adults over 65 will develop arthritis in their lifetime. For some seniors, this leads to pain and poor quality of life. To improve their outcome, seniors must consult with their doctors to develop an activity and care plan that, along with medical treatment, may help maintain health.
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in adults over the age of 65. Chronic forms of heart disease affect those 65 and older disproportionately from the general population. According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, seniors often have complicating risk factors like high blood pressure and increased cholesterol, which puts them at increased risk for stroke and heart attack. Cardiologists recommend regular exercise, weight maintenance, and a nutritious, well-balanced diet to control these risk factors.
According to the CDC, cancer is the second-leading cause of death for seniors. However, if caught early, most types of cancer are treatable. Preventing cancer isn’t always possible. However, seniors can significantly reduce their risk factors through the following:
. cessation of smoking
. regular exercise
. health screenings
COPD and emphysema are the most common respiratory diseases for seniors. These chronic respiratory diseases are the third most frequent cause of death for people aged 65 and older. According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, having a chronic respiratory disease does increase the senior’s health risks by making them more vulnerable to infections like pneumonia. Pulmonologists recommend that seniors with chronic asthma, history of smoking, or industrial exposures, get a baseline lung function test. Often oxygen is prescribed to improve symptoms and has a positive impact on quality of life.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Because the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is difficult and can take years, it is impossible to know how many people live with these chronic conditions. Experts understand that the significant cognitive impairment impacts the health and well-being of seniors. There is no cure for these chronic brain diseases, and while research is ongoing, there is no precise method of prevention. Eventually, those suffering from these conditions will need full-time care.
Osteoporosis is a disease of aging that causes brittle bones in older adults. Women are often affected disproportionately from men. This disease is the leading cause of falls, bone fractures, and injuries in older adults. The National Osteoporosis Foundation has estimated around 54 million Americans over the age of 50 are have low bone mass. That number is expected to rise to 64.4 million by the year 2020.
Type II Diabetes
Around 25 percent of seniors are living with type II or adult onset diabetes. Because it affects every system in the body, it represents a serious health risk to older adults. Adult-onset diabetes is increasingly prevalent in cultures with a high dietary intake of sugar and consequent obesity. It only takes simple blood tests to diagnose diabetes. Type II or adult onset diabetes can usually be prevented or cured, in many cases, by observing a diet low in carbohydrates like sugar, increasing activity, and normalizing weight.
Influenza and Pneumonia
For younger people, the flu and pneumonia are not life threatening. However, for seniors, they are among the top eight causes of death. Because of their poor immune response, older adults are more vulnerable when exposed to these diseases. It is always advised that seniors and their caregivers receive a flu shot annually and the pneumonia vaccine as recommended. While it may not prevent the flu or pneumonia completely, immunizations do lower the incidence and severity.
Abuse of the Elderly
Elder abuse is on the rise, in part due to the increasing population of the aged. It includes actions that range from neglect to assault, injury, and bodily harm. Because of the disparity, it is often undetected or otherwise underreported. The emotional and physical abuse cause trauma and leave scars that impact a senior’s quality of life. If you or a senior you know is being abused tell an authority and consider consulting with a personal injury attorney. Getting help with nursing home abuse in Milwaukee or your own city might be different depending on the legalities there.
Seniors face a lot more health risks than a younger person, and being aware of these common health concerns can help you stay prepared.