Getting older is inevitable. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the life expectancy in the United States is 78.8 years. This is attributed to the advancements in medical science and disease management. Moreover, many people also take on healthy choices such as eating healthy foods and quitting smoking.
Although most Americans are enjoying longer lives, there is still a large part of the geriatric population who are suffering from chronic conditions that can greatly affect the quality of their lives. Below are the most common senior illnesses that have plagued seniors across the country.
Caused by the inflammation of the joints, arthritis is one of the most common senior illnesses. It has been estimated that nearly 50% of people above the age of 65 suffer from crippling arthritis. Although crippling and can discourage people from becoming active, people who suffer from arthritis can manage their pain by taking medication and adapting their lifestyle.
Heart disease is the leading killer of adults in the United States. It affects 37% of men and 26% of women above the age of 65. It is caused by different factors like high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure that also increases the chance of having a stroke. People who suffer from heart diseases can take advantage of constantly having their conditions monitored by their doctor and also adopting to healthy lifestyle changes.
Respiratory diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, asthma, and emphysema are very common among older people. As we age, our immune system starts to deteriorate, thus putting us at a higher risk of developing respiratory-related diseases. This is also the reason why older people are very susceptible to contracting pneumonia, influenza, and other lung infections. Seniors are advised to get an annual flu shot or pneumonia vaccine to prevent developing these infections. If not treated, these conditions can be life-threatening.
It is common for older people to suffer from forgetfulness, but Alzheimer’s disease is more than just a type of dementia. In fact, this disease accounted for more than 90,000 deaths in the United States in 2014. Cognitive impairment is a very serious condition and family members often decide to enroll their senior loved ones in facilities that can look after them on a 24-hour basis.
Osteoporosis is the condition wherein the bones lose their mass and strength. This contributes to seniors becoming less mobile and experiencing frequent falls. The loss of bone mass greatly affects the stability of senior people, putting them at risk of getting involved in different tripping hazards like a slippery floor or rugs. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, there is an estimated 54 million Americans who suffer from osteoporosis and this number is expected to rise in the coming years.
Over time, our body loses its ability to maintain good blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is a very common senior health problem accounting to more than 50,000 deaths each year. This disease happens because the body develops tolerance towards insulin thus it does not pump sugar to the cells to be used and burned as energy. Type 2 diabetes, if not diagnosed and managed, can be a life-threatening condition because it can lead to different diseases like heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and amputation. It is extremely important for senior people to get regular blood test to check if they are suffering from elevated blood sugars or not.
When we get older, our body’s metabolism tends to slow down so we don’t burn energy as efficiently as when we were younger. This often leads to obesity. A person is considered obese if his or her body mass index (BMI) is greater than 30. Obesity is a silent killer and it is often associated with the different diseases like heart disease, diabetes, liver cirrhosis and cancer. Obesity is very easy to spot because the physical manifestations are in front of you. Obesity should be immediately addressed by adopting proper lifestyle changes.
Mental problems like depression are common among senior people. Depression does not only compromise the cognitive functions of an individual but it also compromises the immune system function to fight against infections. It is therefore very important for the elderly to communicate with other people or do interesting hobbies to prevent succumbing to depression.
Cancer is another leading cause of death among the elderly individuals. Common types of cancer that occur among elderly people include prostate cancer for men and breast cancer for women. This is the reason why it is so crucial for the elderly to undergo annual screenings like mammograms, skin checks and colonoscopies to check if they have malignant tumors growing inside them.
Senior Housing Assistance
These common senior illnesses are serious conditions that can have a severe impact on the person affected and on their loved ones. Home care assistance can help ease the burden for many and help those continue living their life in the comfort of their own home. For more information on our home care services, please contact our caregivers today.