Health Conditions To Be Mindful Of As You Age
The aging process is an inevitable part of life. As you grow older, so does your body meaning it cannot function as efficiently and healthily as before. However, all hope is not lost. A survey found that the majority of adults between the ages of 65 to 74 often describe themselves as being in excellent overall health. In addition to adopting healthier habits as you age, it is also vital to know the health conditions you are exposed to during your senior years. This ensures that you acquire vital information today to implement the right habits to avoid future illnesses. On that note, here are common health conditions you must be mindful of as you age.
1. Cognitive decline
To be old and forgetful! It is not uncommon to forget things even more, when you’re older. Age-related memory loss is a natural phenomenon that occurs as you grow older. Although this is not a problem, cognitive decline is dangerous and more worrying. A person experiencing cognitive decline may have trouble completing everyday tasks. This can lead to the development of illnesses such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects the neurons and their connection to parts of the brain that controls memory, reasoning, language, and social behavior. Fortunately, you can prevent or slow down cognitive decline issues through daily exercise and healthy diets that include brain-fuel foods such as nuts, green leafy vegetables, berries, and fatty fish.
You may be worried about growing leaner when you think of old age. Well, the contrary seems to be true. According to the CDC, 41.5% of adults over 60 are obese. This means adults over 60 are likely to have a body mass index equal to or greater than 30. Several factors influence the weight of elderly people. The first one is medication. As mentioned earlier, various medications or cocktails of medications have several side effects, of which weight gain could be possible. Another factor is hormones. As you age and your body changes, the hormones your body produces change. For instance, the body reduces its production of growth hormones and stops the production of estrogen and testosterone. These hormonal changes can affect your health, such as your weight. Less physical activity is also a significant cause of obesity in older people, as mobility and other factors may hinder them from doing so.
However, being obese can cause even more health issues. Older obese adults are at a higher risk of chronic and life-threatening diseases such as stroke, coronary heart disease, gallbladder disease, and high blood pressure.
Another common disease that you’re likely to develop as you age is diabetes. Although this disease can occur at any stage in your life, older people are more susceptible to the disease, with over 33% of people over 65 living with the disease. Diabetes occurs when your body cannot produce or use insulin as well as it should. When you consume food, the body breaks down these foods into glucose (blood sugar level) and releases it into the bloodstream. When your glucose level increases, the pancreas releases insulin which allows the blood sugar into your bloodstream to use as energy. Therefore, if the body cannot produce insulin or use it efficiently, it would lead to blood sugar buildup, increasing the level in your bloodstream.
Diabetes can also cause more health issues like kidney failure, heart disease, vision loss, and stroke. Fortunately, you can slow down and even prevent diabetes by identifying the symptoms of the disease beforehand. Symptoms of diabetes include blurry eyesight, extreme hunger and thirst, numb or tingling hands and feet, fatigue, and frequent urination– especially at night.
4. Chronic constipation
The truth is, occasionally, it can be difficult for your bowels to move freely. This is largely due to your eating habits and food choices. However, when you grow older, chronic constipation is a condition you may have to endure, meaning you may have fewer bowel movements than is normal. Constipation in older adults is caused due to several lifestyle changes. A common cause is a medication. As you grow older, you may need to take various medications. Some of these, or the combination of several medications, may cause chronic constipation.
Another factor that causes chronic constipation. Reducing physical activity is another cause of chronic constipation in older adults. One way an active lifestyle aids constipation is by increasing blood flow to your intestinal muscles. This, in turn, helps move out waste much more easily. So, be sure to keep up with your exercise routines from now till you age!
5. Hearing loss
Statistics show that approximately 48 million Americans are currently living with hearing loss. Additionally, about 25% of adults between the ages of 65 to 74 and 50% of adults 75 years and older experience hearing loss. Although, in many cases, hearing loss results from aging, there are several other causes, such as earwax buildup and exposure to loud noises for an extended period. Ear infections are also a common cause of hearing loss. Studies have also shown links between other health conditions and hearing loss. For example, a link between tooth decay and hearing loss! Also, untreated hearing loss can lead to even more health complications, such as cognitive decline, a higher risk of dementia, social isolation, and mental health issues like anxiety.
Thanks to the advancements in technology, there are several types of hearing devices and assistive listening devices persons with hearing loss can utilize to help them hear better and go about their daily lives. Implementing effective and healthy auditory health habits such as wearing ear protection and frequently visiting your audiologist can help you slow down the effects of hearing loss or identify and treat any ear health issues before it becomes a bigger deal.
6. Vision impairment or loss
Just as your hearing may decline as you age, so does your vision. The older you get, the higher your chances of developing vision problems such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. Diseases such as diabetes (known as diabetic retinopathy) can also cause issues with your eyesight. Age-related macular degeneration damages your central vision, making it challenging to carry out daily tasks such as reading. Cataracts are the cloudy substance around the clear lens of the eye, obscuring sharp vision, making it the number one cause of blindness. Fortunately, when it is detected early, medical procedures can be conducted to take them out. Glaucoma is a collection of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve making it difficult to see clearly.
7. Arthritis and osteoporosis
The truth is, you will not be as fit and healthy as you once were. This is seen in the weakness of your bones. Therefore, your risk of experiencing arthritis and osteoporosis at an older age is no surprise. Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints as the fluids and cartilage wear out, causing the bones to rub against each other. There are two common types of arthritis: rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, with the latter being common in seniors. Osteoarthritis is the deterioration of the connective tissue in the joints, such as the wrists, fingers, hips, and spine.
Osteoporosis is another bone-related illness that you may also experience as you age. Data available shows that about 10 million American seniors have osteoporosis. Simply put, osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones and makes them brittle. This can cause you to break your bones at even a slightly mundane activity! Additionally, as you may be susceptible to falls in your old age, being diagnosed with osteoporosis can make your falls more dangerous.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 5.7% of elderly people deal with depression. Social isolation is a major cause of depression in older adults. Several elderly people have challenges with mobility which prevents them from leaving their homes too often to meet with others and socialize. For others, their health conditions do not make social gatherings enjoyable. For example, a senior with hearing loss may find it difficult to follow a conversation or constantly ask the speaker to repeat themselves. For seniors in assisted living residencies, caregiver stress and a generally stressful environment can cause spark depression. Another significant cause of depression older people experience is loss. As you age, you will lose some loved ones along the way. This can make me feel more lonely and worried about the future.
A problem currently being addressed is the misdiagnosis and undertreatment of older adults with depression. As depression is not a common health issue experienced by elderly people, several health professionals mistake the signs and symptoms of depression for other diseases or natural reactions to this phase of life.
Although it is worrying that you are exposed to these diseases in old age, you can put several preventive and control measures in place to ensure good health. For instance, visiting your doctor regularly to conduct various tests and assessments is advisable. These visits would also help you identify and treat various illnesses on time. You should also adopt healthy living habits such as regular exercise, healthy diets, and gaining adequate sleep, among others.