Growing older is no longer something to be feared of. Thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, it is possible to live a happier, fuller life over a longer period of time. Entering one’s twilight years also puts them at risk for tons of old age health problems. Whether you are looking for yourself or a loved one, it is important to know what to expect. Here are some of the most common old age health problems senior citizens encounter.
Obesity: In and of itself, obesity is a major threat to one’s health. But when combined with old age, the risk of obesity-related death only increases.Extra weight can put extra strain on the internal organs like the heart and lungs. The more restricted an organ is, the less it is able to function.
Arthritis: Aside from obesity, arthritis is the most common of the old age health problems.Arthritis is so much more than a dull, aching pain that flares up. Think of arthritis as the slow breakdown of cartilage and bone. Part of this is natural, occurring slowly over time. Factors like diet and vitamin deficiencies can speed up the rate at which osteoporosis develops.
Cancer: Perhaps no ailment on this list is as prevalent and fatal as cancer. With dozens of different variations, from brain to breast to lung and throat, cancer is responsible for millions of deaths per year. And believe it or not, advancing age is one of the biggest cancer risks out there. With a naturally weakened system, it does not take much to become ill.
Alzheimer’s disease: The body slowly breaking down is one thing, but the mind breaking down is another issue entirely. There is no way around it, Alzheimer’s disease is terrifying.Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s at the time of writing. But check-ups and regular mental stimulation such as crossword puzzles and reading are great ways to keep the mind strong and healthy.
Diabetes: Generally speaking, diabetes and obesity go hand-in-hand. Typically, diabetes is caused by poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. However, certain types of diabetes can be hereditary. Life with diabetes is entirely manageable, but that does not mean it is any less of a health concern. Those with diabetes are at an increased risk of illness, and may even need limb amputations if they are not careful.
Depression: Old age health problems are not always physical; they can be mental as well. Depression among seniors is a serious concern that can lead to premature death.
Oral decay: As we get older, our mouths become dryer, making it easier for bacteria to grow on our gums and teeth. This can make it much more difficult to prevent cavities, tooth decay and even gum diseases like gingivitis. You can keep your healthy smile at an older age by brushing vigorously on a regular basis.
Respiratory disease: A weakened immune system means it is easier to catch all sorts of respiratory illnesses. Something as simple as breathing can become difficult when you have asthma or bronchitis. If that were not bad enough, respiratory illnesses put seniors at an increased risk of pneumonia and influenza.
The writer is a gerontologist and a public health specialist.