Old age brings on many different types of chronic conditions, some could be expected and others are not. Many seniors struggle with bone health, cognitive decline, or some form of decline in health. When you reach the age of 65 or older you fall into the bracket of having at least one or more chronic conditions. Some diseases and illness may have very little to no symptoms and others are a big wakeup call that need immediate medical attention. Factors such as age, gender, and family genetics often make it difficult to escape being a statistic of a chronic disease.
When you stay healthy, such as staying active, eating nutrient-packed foods, and even just taking time to breathe, you can lower, or even potentially prevent your chances of common chronic conditions in older adults. Being diagnosed with an illness or disease can be overwhelming, and many of these can be managed with the proper treatment under the guidance of a medical physician. Keep reading to find out the top 8 most common chronic conditions in seniors.
Top 8 Chronic Conditions in Seniors
Being one of the most common conditions in seniors, arthritis attacks the bones and joint tissue. The most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid, osteoarthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Those who experience arthritis tend to feel pain and discomfort when moving slightly and even breathing. There are different activities you can enjoy that can manage the pain and also medications available. Moving with daily exercise can help manage pain and helps to build stronger bones and joints. People who are affected with arthritis are at an increased risk of falls, so if you live alone be sure to create a daily check-in with family and neighbors, use a medical alert device and wear a medical band.
Diabetes affects people of all ages, but it is very common in seniors. This chronic condition happens when your body is not producing enough insulin to give your body the energy that it needs. When this occurs, you get high blood sugar, which can open the doors for other complications such as kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, cancer and eye disease just to name a few. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2, the most common being type 2. To do your best to prevent type 2 diabetes is to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and increase the amount of fiber in your diet.
You can have high blood pressure for years without any symptoms and once detected, it can be easily controlled with help from your medical physician. When your heart pumps too much blood, and your arteries are too narrow for the blood to flow smoothly, you will experience high blood pressure. Hypertension is a serious condition that can cause a stroke or heart attack. Be sure to remain on top of your blood pressure by purchasing a blood pressure device and checking it daily. Do your best to keep stress levels low, limit salt and alcohol intake.
4. Alzheimer’s Disease
With old age comes cognitive decline, but there is also Alzheimer’s disease. More than 6 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s. (alz.org). Forgetting things such as how to prepare a simple meal, forgetting to bath are signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Organization, “One in nine people age 65 and older (11.3%) has Alzheimer’s dementia” and “Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women”.
Alzheimer’s is not just an illness of memory loss, it also takes lives. “One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. It kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined”. (alz.org)
5. Heart Disease
There are several different types of heart disease, the most common is called coronary artery disease (CAD) that lead to heart attacks. When the coronary arteries narrow, they can’t supply enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart. As plaque continues to build up in your coronary arteries, you may develop symptoms of coronary heart disease:
Here are a few symptoms of heart disease to be aware of according to the CDC:
- Heart attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
- Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations).
- Heart failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.
Heart disease risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Excessive alcohol use
- Physical inactivity
Making major lifestyle choices can help prevent heart disease. If you are a smoker, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, your risk for developing coronary artery disease is much higher. Eating a balanced diet and watching your weight can prevent many chronic conditions, including this one.
This is extremely common among seniors. Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs. People who have bronchitis often cough up thickened mucus, which can be discolored. Bronchitis may be either acute or chronic. (mayoclinic.org).
The body will try and move the mucus by coughing, causing a blocked feeling in your throat. If bronchitis is left untreated, it can lead to pneumonia, one of the top reasons for being hospitalized.
Symptoms for acute or chronic bronchitis include:
- Production of mucus (clear, white, yellowish-gray or green in color)
- Shortness of breath
- Slight fever and chills
- Chest discomfort
Natural Home remedies:
- Salt water
- Essential oil steam
Osteoporosis is one of the most common medical conditions affecting seniors. As you get older, it is normal to lose bone mass, but when cells begin to dissolve bone tissue faster than your body can rebuild new bone, then osteoporosis is usually the diagnosis. Over 10 million people nationwide have osteoporosis.
The hips, wrist, and spine are common areas that can be affected. Someone with osteoporosis should ensure that all trip hazards and slippery surfaces are clear to prevent falls.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “there typically are no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. But once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you might have signs and symptoms that include”:
- Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
- Loss of height over time
- A stooped posture
- A bone that breaks much more easily than expected
Staying active with weight exercises can help to prevent bone loss and strengthen weak bones, a healthy diet and medications are recommended for seniors suffering from osteoporosis.
8. High Cholesterol
There is good cholesterol (HDL) and then there is bad cholesterol (LDL). Cholesterol is carried through your blood, attached to proteins. This combination of proteins and cholesterol is called a lipoprotein. When your body has an excess amount of lipids this causes your arteries to clog causing high cholesterol. High cholesterol can lead to heart disease, heart attack, and hypertension. High cholesterol has no symptoms and a blood test is the only way to discover that you have it.
Genetics play a role in many people that have high cholesterol and there are some medical conditions that can cause unhealthy cholesterol levels according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Chronic kidney disease
If you see that medications are not working, and would like to try something more natural, here are some herbs that can help with lowering cholesterol.
Herbs to manage cholesterol
- Flax Seed
- Fish oil supplements
When starting to try different home remedies, always be sure to consult with a medical professional. Do your research about supplements and herbs before trying them.
Most common chronic conditions in seniors can be prevented and managed with a healthy diet and include exercise in your daily routine. Always get routine check-ups with your doctor and if you live alone, get to know your neighbors so they can assist in case of an emergency and medical alert devices are incredibly helpful. Remember to always consult with a medical physician before trying new medications and exercise movements.