Aging is not just about greying hair and wrinkles. As we grow older our bodies go through various changes and health experts say we need to be aware of those changes and the various risks that they bring.
Everyday Health recently consulted several medical professionals to determine what the most common health concerns are for seniors.
We look at 10 of those:
1. Arthritis. This is one of the most common conditions that people aged 65 and over are afflicted with, noted geriatrician Marie Bernard. The pain caused by arthritis can lower the quality of life for seniors, which is why it is important to develop a personalized activity and treatment plan to maintain health.
2. Heart Disease. As we age, our risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, increase. Statistics show that heart disease is the leading cause of death among adults over age 65, making it important to address these and other senior health risks. “Exercise, eat well, get a good night’s rest,” said Bernard. “Eating well means eating in a fashion that will allow you to keep a healthy weight with a well-balanced and healthy diet.”
3. Cancer. Next to heart disease, cancer is the second biggest killer among seniors aged 65 and over. The good news is that many types of cancer are treatable if they are caught early. There are incidents when cancer cannot be prevented but quality of life among seniors can still be improved through the help of a medical team while also adhering to health recommendations for senior living.
4. Respiratory Diseases. One of the other major leading causes of death among people 65 and older is chronic lower respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These diseases make seniors more susceptible to infections and pneumonia, so it is important to take the correct medication, undergo lung function tests and use oxygen as and when instructed.
5. Alzheimer’s Disease. It is estimated that one in nine people over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease, although this number could be much higher. Cognitive impairment dramatically impacts the health and lives of seniors and gives rise to a wealth of other related issues.
6. Osteoporosis. Low bone mass and osteoporosis affects at least 54 million Americans over age 50. Not only does this put them at risk for fractures and breaks, but it also contributes towards lowered mobility and even disability, Bernard said.
7. Diabetes. Roughly 25 percent of people over the age of 65 are living with diabetes, which can become a massive health risk if not detected and monitored correctly. It is important to go for regular tests.
8. Obesity. A number of senior health concerns such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are linked to obesity. Despite this, it has not stopped the rise of obesity among adults aged 65 and over. Key changes to diet and lifestyle, under the supervision of a medical expert, can go a long way in tackling obesity and related conditions.
9. Depression. Mental health among seniors is often overlooked as the focus is predominantly on physical health issues. However, up to 20 percent of American seniors are living with depression. This mental health condition can directly impact the physical health of the elderly too and can cause lowered immunity, compromising the person’s ability to fight infections. Therapy, medication and holistic lifestyle changes can dramatically increase the quality of life for those living with depression.
10. Substance Abuse. It is estimated that one in five people over 65 had or have a substance or alcohol abuse problem. Aside from the health-related risks involved, alcohol and substance abuse can lead to interactions with prescription medications and increased health risks.