Aging is unavoidable, but healthy aging is possible! Many of the common health concerns in seniors can be prevented. Caring for age-related health problems can help ensure a long and happy life.
Common Health Concerns in Seniors
The list of health problems which can affect seniors may be daunting, but practicing a healthy lifestyle can help prevent many conditions. For patients who have existing conditions, proper diagnosis and treatment can easily improve the quality of life.
Common health problems which can affect seniors include:
- Arthritis: Inflammation and swelling of the body’s joints, causing pain, discomfort, and difficulty moving.
- Cancer: Cancer – a disease where abnormal cells divide and spread – can occur in almost any organ within the body. Cancer can develop in people of all ages, not just the elderly. Many types of cancer are treatable and curable if caught early enough.
Diabetes: A metabolic disease which occurs when the body cannot regulate the amount of glucose (blood sugar) in the body.
- Eye Problems: While vision can naturally worsen over time, seniors can develop eye problems such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
- Falls: People at any age can fall, but with the onset of osteoporosis – a disease which leads to bone loss and weakened bones – seniors are at higher risk of fracturing a hip, wrist, or other bone.
- Heart Conditions: Caring for heart health is essential throughout life in order to keep the heart strong. Keeping active also helps prevent the buildup of plaque – fats which clog the arteries and can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
- Mental Health: The body isn’t the only thing which can be affected by age. Depression and memory problems are two common concerns for seniors.
- Nutrition: Nutrition can lead to weight problems at any age. In seniors, poor nutrition can lead to obesity or weight loss. It’s also important to stay hydrated because every cell in the body needs water to thrive.
- Urinary Tract Problems: Incontinence, difficulty urinating, infections, and frequent urination are some of the possible urinary tract problems that seniors can experience. Not only do these conditions make it challenging to participate in daily activities, infections can lead to life-threatening complications if left untreated.
- Weakening Immune System: As the body ages, the immune system changes and does not work as well. This means that it’s harder for seniors to combat infections. A less efficient immune system also means a longer amount of time needed to heal wounds, as well as increased susceptibility to pneumonia, influenza, and other illnesses.
Fractured Bones in Seniors
Falls can occur due to balance, poor vision, certain medication, other diseases which affect balance or mobility.
Falls can be especially damaging to seniors. Osteoporosis, a disease in which the bones lose density and become fragile, can easily lead to bone fractures and breaks. Fractures also weaken bones further, making it even easier for another fracture to occur in the future.
Hip fractures are especially damaging to seniors, leading to hospitalization and even a shortened life span. People with hip fractures may have to stay immobile for long periods of time to allow healing. Immobility can lead to complications which further damage a person’s health.
Complications of hip fractures include:
- Blood clots
- Bed sores
- Urinary tract infections
- Loss of muscle mass
Falls, along with many other common health problems in seniors, can often be prevented. Balance-building exercises may be helpful for some people. For others, walking aids such as a cane, walking stick, or walker can prevent falls.
Ways to Combat Age-Related Health Issues
While it’s impossible to prevent aging, there are many ways to keep your body healthy into old age.
Ensuring long-term health is a process that starts when you are young. Making healthy lifestyle choices such as being active and eating well are good for your health in general, both in the short term and long term.
Here are some ways to combat age-related health issues:
Be informed: Consult your doctor to learn whether a certain diet or exercise regimen is right for you.
- Keep active: Even 15 – 30 minutes of walking per day can reduce cholesterol, improve cardiovascular health, and delay the natural loss of muscle mass.
- Eat healthy: Fruits, vegetable, lean meats, and low-sodium foods can help keep both your cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems in top-condition. Avoid fatty and fried foods, which can lead to heart problems.
- Drink less alcohol: Many people enjoy a spot of alcohol at some point in their day. Excessive drinking, however, can lead to bone loss and falls.
- Stop smoking: Smoking can cause many health issues that can lead to illness and premature death. It’s never too late to stop smoking!
- Keep your mind stimulated: Staying socially active can help ward off depression, as well as help keep the mind sharp. Puzzles, reading, and other engaging activities can also be helpful.
- Visit your doctor for regular checkups: Your doctor can catch changes in your health more quickly if you visit them on a regular basis.
Florida Medical Clinic
Combating age-related health issues before they start can help keep you or your loved ones out of the hospital. It’s never too late to start a new health routine.
If you’re concerned about your health or a loved one’s health, Florida Medical Clinic’s Primary Care department has you covered. Our experienced and friendly doctors can help answer any questions you have, offer advice on aging, and help guide you and your loved ones through a healthy aging process.