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The longevity of life and the proportion of senior people are definitely increasing across industrialized and developing countries; the key question, however, is whether this growing aging population will meet sustained and improved health conditions. It is an undeniable fact that as we age, our vulnerability for illnesses increases; so the life expectancy, to a large extent, is dependent upon health service delivery systems and family and community support.

According to a report by the World Report on Aging and Health 2015, number of people over 60 years is set to double by 2050, which means major societal changes are required. The report seeks to devise a comprehensive public health action plan for elderly, which will have valuable economic returns. Just as physical health, mental health and well-being are also important in older age.

Aging adults are at a higher risk of life-threatening diseases. Over 90% of senior adults have at least one chronic health condition, and over 75% of them have two or more chronic health conditions. Since physical activity can be extremely helpful in preventing diseases, but less than 60% of older people engage in physical activity, thereby making the problem even worse.

Following are the most common health concerns for senior adults along with their preventive measures:

  1. Heart disease and stroke

According to a recent CDC report, heart disease is the leading cause of death of adults over the age of 65. Around 37% of men and 26% of women are suffering from chronic heart condition – as per the data from Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. In this chronic condition, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, these people are at increased risk of having a stroke.

Prevention and Treatment

First of all cholesterol numbers should be worked out and brought in a good range that can avoid problems in cardiovascular system. The intake of saturated and trans fats should be minimized as much as possible. After that, eating a heart healthy diet, getting regular aerobic exercise, and managing high blood pressure and diabetes will prevent heart disease. The treatment includes medications, procedures to open and unclog arteries and open-heart procedures, angioplasty, and TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator).

  1. Diabetes

The CDC data estimates that 25% people above the age of 65 years are living with diabetes, making it a significant health risk. It is caused due to metabolic disorders, menopause and problems with thyroid functions. Among elderly people, insulin production gets decreased with age that badly affects the sugar levels, thereby making them susceptible to diabetes. In the United States alone over 5 million elderly people are suffering from diabetes.

Prevention and Treatment

People who have type 1diabetes can help prevent or delay the development of complications by keeping their blood sugar in a target range. Regular exercise, along with a good diet, can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and can help reduce cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Controlling blood sugar through diet, oral medication or insulin is the main treatment. Regular screening for complications is also required.

  1. Cancer

According to the CDC data, cancer is the second most lethal disease that is responsible for causing death among people over the age of 65 years. The report also reveals that 28% men and 21% women above 65 are living with cancer. It can occur just about anywhere in the body and then spreads to other parts. Elderly people are ten times more prone to developing cancer as compared to younger adults.

Prevention and Treatment

As cancer is considered as the most dreaded disease, so its preventive measures should be taken as early in life as possible. For example, following a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy fitness routine, regular exercise, avoiding smoking, drinking and irritants are some of the most common preventive methods of cancer. If detected early, cancer is completely treatable. The treatment includes removal of the tumor, chemotherapy, radiation or oral medications.

  1. Arthritis

The prevalence of arthritis in older age is very high. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which closed to 50% of elderly people are suffering from. Other common rheumatic conditions related to arthritis include gout, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Factors that are responsible in the development of arthritis include injury, abnormal metabolism, genetic makeup, infections, and immune system dysfunction.

Prevention and Treatment

In order to prevent arthritis, especially the older population should stay active, keep their joints mobile, watch their weight, keep body-mass index in a normal range, and choose whole plant foods that are high in antioxidants and that have anti-inflammatory properties. Treatment of arthritis aims to control pain, minimize joint damage, and improve or maintain quality of life. Final stage of treatment is surgery, including joint replacement.

  1. Obesity

Obesity or overweight is the root cause of many other life-threatening diseases, which is mostly prevalent in older population. That is, uncontrolled obesity can cause heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and cancer. 32% of men and 40.7% of women between the age of 65 and 75 are obese – meaning their body mass index is greater than or equal to 30 – as per the data released by CDC.

Prevention and Treatment

Weight loss is both prevention and treatment of obesity. Reducing even a small amount of extra body fat can reduce the chances of developing many diseases. A healthy diet, regular exercise and the overall wellness helps prevent obesity and related health complications. There are certain medications and surgery procedures available for the treatment of obesity.

  1. Alcohol/Substance Abuse

Alcohol abuse, especially among the adults above 60 is one of the fastest growing health concerns around the world. Substance abuse has terrible impacts on social relationships, health, and emotional well-being. It can lead to other serious illnesses, worsen medical conditions, and increase healthcare costs. If not addressed in time, there are many physical and emotional effects of alcoholism that can appear in older people.

Prevention and Treatment

A medical intervention and proper counseling is extremely important for preventing substance abuse in older adults. A professionally staged intervention program includes providing family awareness so that issues are not missed, and careful prescribing of medications. As far as treatment is concerned, alcohol detoxification, inpatient rehab and alcohol counseling are the most effective ones.

  1. Alzheimer’s Disease

According to a report by Alzheimer’s Association, one in nine people over the age of 65 years is living with Alzheimer’s disease. This is around 11% of total elderly population, which means loss of memory and dementia are prone in this age group. However, because diagnosis is challenging, it is difficult to figure out exactly how many people are having chronic Alzheimer’s condition. Alzheimer’s is basically a cognitive impairment, so it can have significant impact on senior health across the spectrum.

Prevention and Treatment

Get plenty of omega-3 fats. Evidence suggests that the DHA found in these healthy fats may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by reducing beta-amyloid plaques. Although, there is no fool-proof treatment that can cure Alzheimer’s, but certain medicines have been developed that can temporarily alleviate symptoms, or slow down their progression.

7 Most Common Health Concerns for Seniors and How Prevent Them was last modified: by

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