Updated: Mar 29
As we get older, our health can become more fragile, and it is important to be aware of the most common senior health issues so that you can take steps to prevent them or catch them early. Here are five of the most common senior health issues and some tips for prevention:
1. Arthritis – This is one of the most common senior health issues, and unfortunately there is no cure. On top of that, arthritis also affects a large number of senior citizens in the US. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 4 adults aged 65 years old or older have been diagnosed with some form or arthritis. This includes osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, fibromyalgia and systemic sclerosis. However, this health issue can be managed by exercising regularly to keep joints flexible and strong, reducing pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins C, D, K and E also helps reduce joint damage caused by arthritis.
2. Diabetes – Senior citizens are especially prone to diabetes due to lifestyle changes such as reduced physical activity and changes in diet. Preventing diabetes is an important step for seniors to take in order to maintain their health. Based on statistics, diabetes affects nearly 10% of senior citizens in the United States. According to WHO data from 2018, an estimated 425 million adults were living with diabetes worldwide. It's important to reduce the risk factors associated with developing diabetes which include obesity, unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical activity. The best way to prevent diabetes is to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, restrict sugar intake, and have regular checkups with your doctor.
3. Heart Disease – It’s important for seniors to be aware of their cholesterol levels, as well as any other potential heart-related issues such as high blood pressure or stroke risk factors. To protect your heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease such as stroke or high blood pressure, regular physical activity is recommended as well as a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat. The American Heart Association suggests aiming for at least 150 minutes per week or moderate-intensity aerobic activity and 2 days a week of muscle-strengthening activities for seniors over 65 years old. Eating a balanced diet low in saturated fat and exercising regularly can help prevent heart disease.
4. Dementia – Dementia affects many senior citizens. Dementia is one of the most common health issues that seniors face. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 50 million people worldwide were living with dementia in 2018 and this number is projected to triple by 2050. In the United States, dementia affects around 5 million people aged 65 or older. But, the good news is that there are steps that can be taken to prevent it or delay its onset. Staying active physically and mentally by participating in activities such as reading or puzzles can help delay the onset of dementia.
5. Falls – Falls are one of the most common senior health issues and a leading cause of injury and death among older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the number one cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for people aged 65 years old or older, with an estimated 29 million annual fall injuries in the United States. Falls account for more than 95% of hip fractures and more than 40% of hospital admissions due to trauma in seniors. Approximately 8 million seniors visit the emergency department every year due to fall-related injuries, with an estimated $50 billion in direct medical costs incurred annually from fall-related injuries.
To reduce the risk of falls among older adults, it’s important that they exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, have their vision checked annually at least once a year, and ensure their home is free from any potential tripping hazards. Additionally, physical therapy can help improve balance and strength which can also help prevent falls. Finally, seniors should wear non-skid shoes both indoors and outdoors for extra stability as well as installing grab bars or handrails next to steps or outside tubs or showers for additional safety measures.
With these tips in mind, seniors can take steps to stay healthy and prevent some of the most common senior health issues. Remember to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, avoid excess sugar intake, and maintain regular checkups with your doctor so that you’re aware if any issues arise. With the right approach, seniors can enjoy a long and productive life!
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