Senior Health

Common Health Concerns for Seniors

Getting older brings many changes from a changing body to health challenges and beyond. Some of these changes can even impact your quality of life. Did you know as you get older your risk for heart disease and cognitive decline increases? This is why it’s so important to be aware of common health concerns, so you can take the proper steps to live longer and healthier.

Certain lifestyle choices, such as weight management and quitting smoking, can play an important role in improving your overall health. But that’s not all, you’ll also want to be mindful of your diet and ensure you’re getting regular exercise. These are just a few of the top best practices you can take to combat health concerns as you get older.

Twelve common health concerns (in no particular order) for seniors are…

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Risk of Falling

The risk of falling is a big health concern for seniors. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.” Even though many falls don’t cause serious injuries, one out of five falls will cause serious injuries, such as hip fractures.

The fear of falling can sometimes be such a concern that some older adults curtail their daily activities. But, you need to know that cutting back on activities because you’re afraid of falls isn’t the route to go. When you’re less active you become weaker, and in turn, put yourself at a higher risk for falling. If you’re concerned about falling be sure you speak with your medical professional to assess your risks.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the most deadly chronic diseases for older people, so there’s no question as to why it’s a common health concern. In fact, heart disease affects 37-percent of men and 26-percent of women age 65 and older.

As we age, our risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol also increases which puts us at a greater risk for heart disease and stroke. Some great ways to improve your health include eating a healthy and balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting a good night’s rest every day. You may also want to check out these foods that can help boost heart health!

Cognitive Decline

Cognitive decline is a common concern for seniors, but it’s important to know that, while some memory loss is common, types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are not a normal part of aging. The Alzheimer’s Association said that 51-percent of seniors reported that they noticed changes in their ability to think, understand, and remember things, while 22-percent of these seniors worry about these changes.

They also said that one in nine seniors reported that these types of changes interfered with their ability to function in common activities, such as grocery shopping, cooking, and getting dressed. Be sure you learn to recognize the most common early signs of Alzheimer’s because early intervention and treatment is of the utmost importance.

Arthritis

Many seniors are concerned about arthritis and for good reason. Maria Bernard, MD, Deputy Director of the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Maryland says, “Arthritis is probably the number one condition that people 65 or older contend with.”

According to the CDC, about 49-percent of all adults over 65 in the U.S. are affected by arthritis. Unfortunately, for some seniors, arthritis can lead not only to pain but also to a lower quality life. There are some great natural ways to relieve arthritis pain, but always be sure to work with your medical professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Vision and Hearing Loss

Our bodies are constantly changing as we age, and it’s common for older adults to experience some vision and hearing loss. Some common age-related eye problems include cataracts, dry eyes, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

Furthermore, even though hearing loss is common throughout all age groups, the severity of it can increase as we age. As much as 25-percent of adults age 65 to 74 experience debilitating hearing loss and this increases to about 50-percent of adults age 75 and older. This is why regular vision and hearing exams are very important and will help you detect issues early on.

Cancer

According to the CDC, cancer is the second most fatal chronic condition among adults over the age of 65. Thankfully, many types of cancer are treatable, as long as they are detected early enough. This makes screenings such as colonoscopies, mammograms, and regular skin checks extremely important.

Cancer isn’t always preventable, but there are ways you can stay positive. Check out these 6 steps to take after a cancer diagnosis. Finally, be sure to work with your medical professional to figure out the best course of treatment, as well as tips to improve your quality of life.

Respiratory Disease

Respiratory disease affects the lungs as well as other parts of the respiratory system. It can be caused by infection, smoking tobacco, second-hand smoke, and breathing in asbestos or other types of harmful air pollution. Chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD) is the third most fatal disease among adults age 65 and older. This includes chronic bronchitis, asthma, and emphysema.

CLRD puts seniors at risk, because it can make you more vulnerable to pneumonia and other infections. Thankfully, there are great ways to improve your quality of life such as taking prescribed medication or using oxygen. You should also be sure to keep up with your lung function tests to ensure you take the best course of action.

Depression

Depression may not be a normal part of aging but it is common. The American Psychological Association states that about 15- to 20-percent of Americans age 65 and older have experienced depression.

Depression is dangerous for seniors because it can lower your immunity which can decrease your body’s ability to fight infections. It’s very important to learn and recognize the signs and symptoms of depression and never be afraid to ask for help. With the right treatment, your quality of life can significantly improve.

Diabetes

According to the CDC, roughly 26-percent of seniors aged 65 and older are living with diabetes. This is a health concern for seniors because older adults with diabetes are at greater risk for developing diseases associated with the heart such as stroke, coronary artery disease, and heart attacks.

Furthermore, almost three in four people with diabetes will suffer from a heart-related issue as they age. This is why controlling your blood sugar and making lifestyle changes, such as changing your diet, is so important.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to become brittle and weak, thereby greatly increasing your risk for fracture. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that 54 million Americans, 50 and older are at risk for breaking a bone and therefore should be very concerned about bone health.

Thankfully, there are some great ways you can prevent osteoporosis later in life. Strategies such as adjusting your diet, exercising regularly, and seeing your medical professional for regular screenings are all great practices to protect your bones and improve your quality of life.

Pneumonia and Influenza

Pneumonia and influenza (“flu”) aren’t senior-specific illnesses, but they are a health concern because seniors are more vulnerable due to their weakened immune systems. A weak immune system will make it harder for your body to fight off infections, such as those caused by bacteria and viruses.

The flu can progress to pneumonia which is an even greater risk for seniors because it can lead to hospitalization and can even be fatal in the worst case scenario. As a result, flu prevention tips are important! Keep in mind, it would be best to speak to your healthcare professional to find out the best steps you can take to prevent these complications.

Oral Health Issues

Oral health is important for a beautiful smile, and it also plays an important role in your overall health. As you age, you become more at risk for a number of oral health problems, such as root decay, gum disease, darkened teeth, dry mouth, tooth loss, denture-induced stomatitis, and thrush.

Some of the best oral health tips include visiting your dentists regularly, ensure you brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss daily, and rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash at least once a day. These best practices should be a priority to give you the best chances at healthy gums and teeth.

Clarissa Vanner

Clarissa Vanner

Clarissa is the Junior Managing Editor of ActiveBeat. She aspires to live a healthy lifestyle by staying active and eating foods that nourish her body, but she isn't afraid to indulge in a little chocolate here and there! Clarissa loves cooking, being outdoors, and spending time with her dog. In her free time, you'll find her relaxing in her hammock or curled up on the couch reading a book.

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