According to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, Americans can expect to live for another 19.3 years after making it to 65 years of age. The research also found that 41% of people over 65 feels that their health is very good or excellent. This makes it essential for seniors to lead a healthy lifestyle that involves closely monitoring their chronic conditions. Some of the healthy life choices include losing excess weight, quitting smoking, eating healthy, and maintaining physical activity. An excellent way of ensuring that you stay on track with these and other health initiatives is to have a geriatrician, a doctor specializing in the health concerns due to aging and who can help you live better with chronic diseases.
Here are some health concerns which seniors need to keep a good eye on:
Health concerns for seniors
Geriatrician Marie Bernard MD, deputy director of the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda says that arthritis is very likely the most common condition suffered by people who are 65 years or older. Research by CDC found that 49.7% of people over 65 are affected by the condition and it may result in pain and reduced quality of life for them. Although living with arthritis is difficult, a personalized activity plan coupled with the right treatments will help you maintain your health.
Heart disease is the leading killer of adults over 65 years of age, according to CDC. It accounted for 498,722 deaths in 2014. The Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics discovered that heart disease as a chronic condition affects 26% of women and 37% of men who are seniors. The chances of having a stroke or developing heart disease increase with age, because age comes with trigger conditions such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Keeping this senior health risk in check through eating well and keeping a healthy weight will help to maintain good senior health, according to Dr. Bernard.
Cancer Health Concerns in Old Age
Research by CDC found that cancer, following closely behind heart disease, is the second leading killer of adults over 65, accounting for 413,885 deaths in 2014. According to the research, 21% of women and 28% of men over age 65 have cancer. It is possible to catch cancer in the early stages through regular screenings such as skin checks, mammograms, and colonoscopies and to thereby treat it. If you are already living with cancer, you can improve the quality of your life by having your treatment doctors help you maintain healthy senior living standards.
CDC found that chronic lower respiratory diseases are third on the list of killer health conditions for seniors over age 65, recording 124,693 deaths in 2014. According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, of the seniors over age 65, 13% are women and 10% men living with asthma, and 11% are women and 10% men living with emphysema or chronic bronchitis. This condition may make you more susceptible to diseases like pneumonia, but, regular lung infection tests and using the right medication correctly will help to preserve your senior health.
Alzheimer’s Disease Health Concerns in Old Age
According to research by CDC, Alzheimer’s disease accounted for 92,604 deaths of people over age 65 in 2014. 1 out of 9 people over age 65 (11%) have the Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The condition is very hard to diagnose; hence it is unclear as to the number of people living with the chronic condition. Alzheimer’s disease causes cognitive impairment which considerably affects senior health.
Dr, Bernard stated that osteoporosis can contribute to reduced mobility and even disability due to fractures or collapse of the vertebrae body. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, an estimated 54 million Americans over age 50 live with osteoporosis. A broken bone due to the diseases would lead to poor senior health.
Diabetes Health Concerns in Old Age
25% of people over age 65 are living with diabetes, according to CDC, accounting for 54,161 deaths among adults over age 65 in 2014. Diabetes is easily diagnosed at its early stages and can be well taken care of and controlled to improve senior health.
Influenza and Pneumonia
They are among the top 8 infections that cause death in the elderly. People of these ages have a higher vulnerability to these conditions and struggle to fight them. An annual flu shot and vaccination against pneumonia would help to prevent these infections.
According to CDC, every year, there are 2.5 million people age 65 and over that are treated in emergency rooms because of falls. This is the highest number compared to any of the other groups. Also, according to a study published by the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, a third of the people who are treated for a fall in the ER find themselves back there within a year. Managing tripping hazards like area rugs and slippery floors will help to lower chances of falls.
One in five elderly people had a substance or alcohol abuse problem at least once in their lives. This is according to a data analysis by the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. The impact on the seniors’ health by prescription medications could affect health risks such as falls due to intoxication.
Obesity Health Concerns in Old Age
Obesity is a particularly crucial senior health risk factor for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. CDC found that 40.7% of women and 36.2% of men who are adults between age 65 and 74 are obese; their BMI is greater than or equal to 30. This will affect their senior quality of life.
Depression Health Concerns in Old Age
The American Psychological Association found that 15-20% of Americans over age 65 has been through depression. Depression lowers the body’s immunity and hence their ability to fight infections and other diseases. In seniors, depression can be treated through therapy, medication, and increasing physical activity.
Oral Health Concerns in Old Age
According to CDC, 25% of adults age 65 and over do not have natural teeth. With age comes a drier mouth and oral health becomes difficult. A healthy set of teeth and gums are essential for good senior health. According to Dr. Wei, proper oral care that includes regular dental checkups will help with senior health.
Poverty Health Concerns in Old Age
A 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation report found that in 2015, 45% of the elderly had incomes below the poverty level. Single older adults are more likely to live alone with even fewer resources. This affects overall senior health especially when you cannot afford medication, check-ups and other health needs.
Chickenpox can come back as shingles in adults. The National Institutes of Health found that one in three people get shingles before they are 80. The condition affects one side of the body characterized by pain and itchy rashes. A vaccine, however, will keep shingles at bay.