As we age, our risk for developing certain health conditions increases, and it’s important to be aware of these risks so that we can take steps to prevent them.
The following diseases and risks are common for seniors:
1. Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for seniors in the United States, and it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors so that you can seek treatment if necessary. Some of the most common symptoms of heart disease include chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
There are also several risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes. If you have any of these risk factors, it’s important to talk to your doctor about how to reduce your risk for heart disease.
Cancer is another common disease for people over the age of 55, and it’s important to be aware of the signs of different types of cancer so that you can seek treatment as soon as possible if you do develop cancer.
Some types of cancer, such as colon or breast cancer, are preventable with early detection. And other types might require lifestyle changes in order to reduce your risk. If there is a history of cancer in your family, talk to your doctor about getting regular screenings.
3. Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are both forms of brain diseases that cause memory loss and impair cognitive function. Dementia typically impacts older adults, while Alzheimer’s typically impacts those under the age of 65. However, 1 out of 3 seniors over the age of 70 will develop Alzheimer’s disease.
The symptoms for dementia and Alzheimer’s are similar, including memory loss and changes in personality or mood. It’s important to note that Alzheimer’s is caused by a buildup of plaque in the brain, which can’t be reversed or treated using medications or surgery. There are various Alzheimer’s care options that can help a senior with Alzheimer’s to maintain a high quality of life.
Another common health concern for seniors is osteoporosis, which causes the bones to become weak and fragile. Seniors are at an increased risk for developing osteoporosis because of age-related changes in their metabolism and hormones. In addition, women who have gone through menopause are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis. One in two women over the age of 50 will develop this disease.
If you’re concerned about your bone density or your risk for osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about getting tested to determine your level of risk. If you are at high risk, your doctor may recommend taking medications or supplements to help strengthen the bones.
Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin or use it effectively, resulting in high blood sugar levels. This can lead to serious health complications over time, including loss of vision and nerve damage that causes pain or requires amputation of limbs. Seniors are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes because age-related changes in metabolism make it more difficult for the body to process sugar properly without assistance from medication.
If you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, talk with your doctor about getting screened on a regular basis so that you can take steps towards preventing this disease if necessary. If you do develop type 2 diabetes, your doctor may prescribe medications or recommend lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise.
6. Dental Disease
Dental disease is another common health concern for seniors because many of them neglect to seek dental care regularly. Without regular brushing and flossing, older adults are at an increased risk for developing gum disease or cavities.
Dental diseases can also lead to other more serious conditions throughout the body, including heart disease and respiratory infections due to poor immune function caused by chronic illness or poor nutrition. If you’re currently avoiding the dentist or have skipped appointments in the past, talk to your doctor about developing a dental care routine that you can stick with.
7. Vision Loss
Vision loss is another common health concern for seniors, particularly for those over the age of 65. Some causes of vision loss are preventable with proper eye care, including glaucoma and macular degeneration, which are both caused by damage to the retina and optic nerve. Other forms of vision loss can’t be prevented but may be treated with medications or surgery if caught early enough.
If you’re 60 years old or older and experiencing any kind of vision problems, talk to your doctor about scheduling an appointment to get tested for glaucoma and macular degeneration, as well as other conditions that could be causing vision loss.
There you have it: some of the most common health concerns for seniors. If you’re concerned about your risk for any of these diseases, talk to your doctor about getting screened on a regular basis.