Aging can be quite a roller coaster as different health issues occur and cognitive abilities decline. Staying on top of your health, no matter what your age, can be a blessing later in life. Common issues, such as osteoporosis or cognitive decline, are quite common and can start by the age of 50 or even earlier. Understanding the most common senior-related health issues and their causes can help you make the necessary lifestyle changes to try and prevent them from happening to you. In general, people are taking their current and future health more seriously with the goal of leading a healthy lifestyle and avoiding constant medical care. According to the CDC, by the age of 65, you can expect to live almost another 20 years. Avoiding problems that come with aging is inevitable but making healthy lifestyle choices is totally up to you. Simple things such as quitting smoking, exercising daily, eating healthier are things you can incorporate to maintain or improve your health. As we age, there are a range of health conditions that are prevalent in the general population not to mention that our family history and lifestyle could be additional risk factors for common and more serious medical conditions. Here, we will go over the top health concerns for seniors and things you can do to improve your chances to live a healthier lifestyle.
Senior Health Concerns
This is the most common condition people ages 65 and older deal with. Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints. There are different types of arthritis, but the most common are Rheumatoid, Osteoarthritis, and Psoriatic. Arthritis can prevent most people from staying active, but consulting with your doctor to find the most effective form of exercise and/or medication can be helpful to slow its advancement.
This affects not just older adults but a large cross-section of the US population. Diabetes occurs when your pancreas, a gland near your stomach, cannot produce enough insulin or your body is unable to use it properly. Insulin carries sugar from the blood to your cells where it is converted to energy. The result is your blood sugar is too high and being overweight increases your risk of developing diabetes. Type II diabetes is the most common form and there are preventive measures that can be taken to manage or even prevent this condition. Your diet, weight, and the amount of exercise you do can be crucial in managing diabetes. If you are someone living with diabetes, it is extremely important to get it under control because other health issues can arise if not managed, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, and eye problems.
3. Cognitive Decline
As you age, cognitive decline is normal and can affect people in different ways. Forgetting where you placed your keys or simple dates isn’t totally out of the ordinary, but once you start forgetting simple tasks such as how to make spaghetti or your grandchildren’s names, then it might be time to get evaluated for diseases such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. This is pretty common in seniors, and there are memory care facilities that can be very helpful when dealing with this. You might not be aware, but your loved ones may, and being aware of this early can prepare you for future care. While you may not be able to prevent the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of developing it. You need to be physically active, eat healthily, don’t smoke, reduce your alcohol intake and keep your mind active.
4. Vision or Hearing loss
A decline in your hearing or vision as you age is normal and a pair of glasses and or hearing aids can be easy solutions. While a decline in either your hearing or vision is normal, maintaining regular screenings for hearing and vision is vital as you age. Some of the causes of hearing or vision loss can be caused by more serious illnesses. From a practical perspective making sure your vision is corrected can mean the difference of driving safely verses injuring yourself or someone else. Age-related eye issues like macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma affect millions of seniors.
5. Influenza and Pneumonia
These are among the top most common health issues in seniors. According to the CDC, these infections are in the top eight causes of death in seniors over the age of 65. Since your immune system weakens as you get older, it is that much harder to fight off these infections. This is why it is important to maintain a healthy diet and daily exercise on a regular basis, so your body will have the strength it needs to ward off these infections. It is also recommended to get the Flu shot, Pneumonia vaccine, and Covid-19 vaccine to boost your immune system in the event you contact one of these viruses or infections.
6. Heart Disease
Heart disease has been one of the main causes of death in seniors since 2014. According to the CDC, this chronic condition affects 37% of men and 26% of women ages 65 and older. As people age, they are more prone to conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure which can lead to a stroke or heart disease. Taking good care of your body and heart before the age of 65 can lower your risk or even prevent—heart disease—all together.
7. Respiratory Diseases
Diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, better known as COPD, is the third most common cause of death in seniors. Lots of people struggle with asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema but as time goes on, breathing can most increasingly become more difficult. Having any type of chronic, respiratory-related issues can increase your risk of getting pneumonia and other infections. Be sure to get pulmonary tests and take your medication as prescribed to stabilize your condition and improve your quality of life.
Osteoporosis is called a “silent disease” because it progresses without symptoms until a fracture occurs. This disease occurs when the body loses too much bone or doesn’t produce enough bone leading to weak bones that may break from a fall. Although osteoporosis is very common, most men view osteoporosis solely as a “woman’s disease.” It develops less often in men than in women because men have larger skeletons, their bone loss starts later and progresses more slowly, and they have no period of rapid hormonal change and bone loss. However, men are at risk as they age due to their testosterone levels dropping and men with certain negative lifestyle habits such as alcohol abuse, smoking and being sedentary have a higher risk of developing the disease. Over the past few years, the problem of osteoporosis in men has been recognized as an important public health issue, particularly in light of estimates that the number of men above the age of 70 will continue to increase as life expectancy continues to rise. Living with osteoporosis can reduce your quality of life, making it difficult to enjoy simple activities.
Avoiding health issues as we age is nearly impossible, but with a healthy diet and daily exercise you can make a difference and improve your quality of life. Many health conditions can be prevented with the right medication, diet, exercise and a positive mindset. Be sure to consult with a medical professional to make sure you are taking the right steps to a healthier lifestyle.