10 Most Common Health Concerns for Senior Citizens

The older you get, the more concerned you start to become about certain health conditions or problems that may develop. Developing a chronic illness or disease may seem like the end of the world, but not only are there good and healthy ways to handle a disease once you have it, there are also steps you can take to improve your quality of life and prevent certain illnesses.

In order to stay healthy, it is important to be aware of the most common health concerns in people over 65 so that you are better prepared for how to handle or prevent them.

Heart Disease

Heart disease has long been the leading cause of death in adults over 65. It is a chronic condition that affects 37% of men and 26% of women over the age of 65. There are many risk factors associated with heart disease that increase the likelihood of it developing in an individual. These include, but are not limited to, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol, and smoking.

The best weapon you have against heart disease is taking good care of your body. Try to maintain a healthy diet full of good nutrients and vitamins, and be sure to get enough exercise and sleep every day. Make sure to limit your alcohol intake, as well as sugars and saturated and quitting smoking will be a big contender in lowering your risk for heart disease, as well as limiting the progression of the disease after diagnosis.

Arthritis

While heart disease may be the leading cause of death in adults over 65, arthritis is estimated to affect 49.7% of older adults and is the number one condition people over 65 have to live with. Arthritis is when the cartilage between the joints starts to wear out with age, and it can affect your hips, knees, hands, feet, and spine. Factors that increase your risk for arthritis include injury, obesity, genetics, and smoking,

Preventing arthritis is dependent on a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and no substance abuse but nothing can completely protect you from developing it. Arthritis often leads to pain and a lower quality of life, so it is important to work with a doctor to develop a plan alongside the treatment to keep you healthy. When living with arthritis, it is best to do exercises that are gentle on your joints such as tai chi or swimming to make sure you stay healthy and to keep your muscles and joints from wearing down completely.

Cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in older people and affects over ¼ of men and ⅕ of women over 65. While cancer is scary in its name, many types of cancer are very treatable when caught early. For this reason, it is important to have regular checks such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and skin checks, so that if you do contract cancer, it is caught in its early stages.

By maintaining healthy living choices such as a good diet and exercise plan and working with your doctor and health team to come up with good health plans and treatment for you, you can greatly improve your quality of life, even living with cancer.

Respiratory Diseases

Respiratory diseases are the third most common cause of death in older people because there are so many ways people can be affected. These diseases include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, and emphysema, and many affect over 10% of people over 65. These conditions make you more vulnerable to pneumonia, influenza, and other infections that can greatly impact your health.

The best way to prevent or deal with respiratory diseases is to get frequent lung function tests so that it is caught early and to take the correct medication. Preserving your health with healthy diets and exercise will have a big impact on your life, and one of the best ways to prevent or handle a respiratory disease is to quit smoking.

Alzheimer’s Disease

One in nine people over 65 are known to suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease, but because it is so difficult to diagnose, it is hard to know exactly how many people are really living with this chronic condition. Alzheimer’s can have a significant impact on the safety and self-care of an individual and can result in a higher cost of living because of a need for specialized care or a nursing home.

Risk factors that lead to Alzheimer’s include depression, diabetes, smoking, hypertension, and substance abuse. Limiting your risk for any of these can help you to avoid Alzheimer’s, and improving your diet and exercise plan can have a big impact on your life regarding Alzheimer’s.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition where your body has a low bone mass. The bones are less capable of laying down new bone that they normally would, which results in brittle, thin bones that are prone to breakage. Osteoporosis can cause people to become less mobile in their everyday lives or even disabled because it puts them at a higher risk for fractures and breaks.

There are few warning signs when it comes to detecting osteoporosis. Detection is often very sudden and due to a break or fracture. Whether you are trying to prevent osteoporosis, or live with it, it is important to maintain a diet rich in calcium and to do exercises that build muscle, like weights.

Diabetes

25% of people over 65 live with diabetes. Diabetes is when the sugar trapped in your blood starts to damage the blood vessels and nerve fibers around your body. The long-term effects of diabetes include blindness, kidney failure, foot problems, and heart disease.

The best way to deal with diabetes is to detect it early with annual blood tests for blood sugar levels, because the sooner you know, the sooner you can make changes to your diet to control the disease.

Influenza and Pneumonia

As you get older, you become more prone to infection, and your bodies ability to fight them off lessons. Over 674,000 adults over 65 are sent to the hospital with pneumonia every year, and 90% of flu and pneumonia-related deaths are adults over 65.

The best prevention for these infections is getting an annual flu shot and talking to your doctor about the pneumonia vaccine to see if it is best for you.

Obesity

While obesity in itself leads to a poor quality of life, it is also a major risk factor for a number of other chronic diseases that can have a big impact on your life. These include health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

As you get older, it is important to be aware of changes in your body in both your metabolism and your digestive system. These changes mean that you can’t eat the same way you may have when you were younger and that certain changes need to be made. Maintaining a healthy diet and a good exercise regimen are the best weapon against obesity. For more information on the nutrition and dietary needs of an older adult, click here.

Depression

15 to 20% of Americans over the age of 65 have or presently suffer from depression. Depression lowers one’s ability to fight off infections, and it has a damaging effect on the immune system. Depression also often results in a lack of motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle whether with regards to a diet or exercise.

An increase in physical activity is a healthy way to combat depression on top of therapy and/or medication. It is also important to maintain social interaction and get out of the house to boost your sense of happiness.

Let Us Help

If you have questions regarding these or other concerns about assisted living communities in the Aurum Network, contact us at (978) 282-9551 or use our facility locator tool.

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