The 10 Most Common Health Concerns Among Elderly

The 10 Most Common Health Concerns Among Elderly

Loss of bone density, easy fatigability, heart conditions, and other comorbidities, including mental health problems, usually come with age. Therefore, caring for the elderly should be a holistic approach to guarantee a better quality of life.

Carefully managing chronic conditions, quitting vices like smoking and heavy alcohol drinking, being physically active, and having a healthy diet all contribute to avoiding morbidity risks among the elderly.

Table of Contents

Who are the elderly?

Top health concerns among elderly

  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Influenza and Pneumonia
  • Visual Problems
  • Depression
  • Oral Health

Aging with grace

Who are the elderly?

The elderly are conventionally defined as a chronological age of 64 and onwards. In addition, there is an “early elderly” and a “late elderly,” those 65 to 74 years old belonging in the former group and those 74 onwards in the latter category. However, there have been debates about whether or not these age brackets should still be adapted. In addition, some studies show that the functional independence of the elderly may vary from one region to another depending on culture, lifestyle, and other circumstances.

Top health concerns among elderly

Seniors face many conditions that could affect their overall quality of life. Understanding each disease and illness gives a better perspective and approach to caring for them. The following are among their top health concerns:

Heart Disease – Heart problems and complications are still the leading cause of mortality among 65 and above, affecting more men than women. Uncontrolled high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels contribute to the increased risk of acquiring heart disease. Increasing chest tightness and pain over two weeks warrants a medical check-up. Getting a good night’s rest, eating a well-balanced diet, religiously taking their maintenance medication, and having regular check-ups can help improve their overall health.

Cancer – according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cancer is the second on the list of death causes among the elderly. Over 21 percent of women and 28 percent of men live with cancer. With the advent of new screening tools like mammograms, colonoscopy, and skin tests, however, various types of cancer can now be detected and managed in their earlier stages. In addition, families of the elderly with cancer are usually also briefed on the importance of physical, mental, and emotional support throughout their fight against the disease.

Arthritis – arthritis can produce debilitating pain and limitations of daily activities. This condition can prevent the elderly from participating in their usual hobbies and routine, thereby lowering their quality of life, especially when left untreated. Therefore, it is vital for these patients to include a personalized activity plan that they can follow through, along with the maintenance medication they need to take.

Diabetes – more than 25 percent of the elderly population lives with diabetes. Some are even left undiagnosed until complications like heart disease and kidney problems ensue. Diabetes can be detected through various tests; one of the most accessible would be the blood glucose test. Early diagnosis is key to preventing complications brought about by this disease. A strong family history of diabetes could already provide an earlier caution and clue.

Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis is a condition where there is already a loss of bone mineral density, causing an increased risk for fracture with even low-velocity injuries. This is common in elderlies, with predominance in females. Early menopause also plays a part in increasing the risk for the disease. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation may aid in maintaining bone integrity among these patients. Activities that are highly likely to cause bumps or falls should be avoided.

Alzheimer’s Disease – although over 11 percent of the elderly suffer from this disease, diagnosing Alzheimer’s remains a challenge. Issues of safety and self-care are included in the management goals among these patients. Cognitive impairment can be a point of discussion about whether a nursing home or a residential facility will be opted for care. Family education for elderly support should also be done to optimize overall health care.

Influenza and Pneumonia – elderly are more susceptible to infections. Although these aren’t chronic conditions, many elderly patients succumbed to these diseases. It may be owed to the underlying co-morbidities and nature of frailty among this population. Annual flu shots and pneumococcal vaccines are recommended to prevent these diseases and their complications.

Visual Problems – millions of elderly are affected by macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. Maintaining annual check-ups could help detect early signs of visual impairment. Underlying conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, should also be noted as these diseases affect the eyes.

Depression – depression is linked to lower immunity in the elderly, compromising their ability to fight off infection. Alongside medication, physical activity and peer-related engagements help improve the overall state of mind of the elderly.

Oral Health – missing teeth and bad breath are just some of the conditions related to oral health in the elderly. As their mouth tends to become drier as they age, proper oral health care becomes even more vital. Regular dental check-ups can help maintain healthy teeth and gums as they age.

Aging with grace

With appropriate care and treatment, aging with grace is entirely possible. Studies have shown that the elderly nowadays have a longer life expectancy than data collated 20 years ago. According to the CDC, this means that with careful management of chronic conditions, early use of screening tools, and adherence to maintenance medications, the elderly are expected to live another 19.3 years on average.

The family members should also keep in mind that the earlier diseases are detected, the better they can be managed. The elderly are the population that has gone through decades of changing times, which the younger population is yet to gain. These experiences have grown wiser, and their life lessons bear an even greater value for the next generation to share.