There are many great things about getting older. You become wiser, more confident, more comfortable in your own skin, and retirement gives you the time to pursue postponed dreams or spend more time with family. However, like everything in life, there is also a negative side: health deterioration. Our bodies become more fragile, less flexible, and unfortunately, more prone to diseases. Of course, each case is different and depends heavily on one's medical history, but there are some common health issues that we all should be aware of so we can do everything possible to prevent them from happening.
At the top of the most common chronic conditions for adults over 65 are high blood pressure and high cholesterol – two main factors in heart attacks. For this reason, it's no surprise that heart disease is the leading cause of death among the elderly.
All the food crimes we committed during our lives really take a toll when we get older. Type 2 diabetes is a common concern for many adults over 45, and it gets worse further down the line. It's a disease fairly easy to detect and control, yet diabetes can lead to complications such as kidney disease, heart disease, or blindness, resulting in more than 79,000 deaths annually.
Arthritis is another common health issue that arises as we grow older. As we age, our bones start to deteriorate, and inflammation of the joints becomes more regular. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, each with its own cause and treatment. The worst thing about this health condition is that besides the never-ending pain, mobility decreases and it becomes harder to perform everyday chores, negatively impacting quality of life.
Although falling is not an actual health problem, it kills one older adult every 19 minutes. Balance declines with age, translating into more falls the older we get. This combined with weaker bones results in a higher percentage of fractures that may affect us for the rest of our lives. Worse still, when falling there's a risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury – the most common cause of seniors’ falling deaths.
It's true that when we get to retirement, we have more time to pursue goals that were impossible when we were still part of the workforce. However, seniors who stay at home – by choice or due to reduced mobility – often face the problem of solitude. Isolation is one of the most common causes of depression, which can be fatal. One of the main problems with mental health problems is that, more often than not, seniors don't seek treatment, letting the disease develop by itself with no control whatsoever.
Alzheimer's is one of the scariest diseases for the elderly and their families alike. The condition causes brain cells to degenerate and die, which can then lead to dementia. People suffering from this ailment see their memory decline drastically to the point of their becoming utterly dependent on others to live.
Preventing Common Health Problems
It's a fact that older people need to watch over their health more closely than the young. Frequent visits to the doctor are a must since developing health problems that are discovered in their early stages will be easier to treat or restrain. Nonetheless, there are steps that we can take to prevent these diseases from appearing.
Exercise is vital in any stage of life, but seniors should be even more serious about it since it prevents heart conditions and improves both balance and general well-being. Of course, exercise should be followed by a healthy diet provided by your doctor or nutritionist. Furthermore, using that extra free time to pursue activities outside the house is proven to combat isolation and mental issues. Even for older adults who are far away from their loved ones or friends, joining a volunteer organization in the neighborhood can do wonders for one’s mental state. Not only is it the perfect way to meet new people, but it also provides the great feeling of contributing to the greater good. Lastly, playing any type of game – from Facebook games to crosswords or chess – is an excellent way to exercise the mind and prevent diseases like Alzheimer's.
Getting a Helping Hand With Medical Alert Systems
Medical alert system devices can be our best friends, ensuring we stay healthy while also helping in times of distress. Some companies offer a dedicated plan with all medical information and medication monitoring, guaranteeing that the necessary medicine is being taken at the right time. What’s more, many of these devices come with a fall detector. And although it can't prevent the user from falling, it connects automatically to a professional team ready to help. If the worse happens and there's a head injury, medical assistance arrives in a few minutes, decreasing the death rate tremendously. Some other features that put everyone at ease are fire and carbon monoxide detectors and GPS. With these, seniors and their families know that there is always someone there to help, even when the older adult isn't able to call 911.
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