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Senior Health: 10 Top Concerns

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According to a 2009-2011 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Washington, D.C., approximately 41% of 65-year old adults reported their health to be excellent or very good.

The CDC says people in America today can expect to live longer than ever before. However, for many, their later years require carefully managing chronic conditions to stay healthy. Making beneficial lifestyle choices, such as quitting smoking and losing weight, can help you avoid typical senior health risks. Being physically active and eating a proper diet is key to avoiding chronic disease.

The following common health threats are ones you and your medical team may need to manage, so you can live long and feel well.

Osteoarthritis

Affects approximately 50% of people 65 or older and can lead to pain and lower the quality of life for some. It is important to work with your doctor to develop a personalized activity plan, along with other treatment, to help maintain your health.

Heart Disease

Is the leading killer of adults over age 65, affecting 37% of men and 27% of women. High blood pressure and high cholesterol increase the chances of having a stroke or developing heart disease. Doctors recommend exercising, eating well, and getting a good night’s rest to maintain a healthy weight.

Cancer

Is the second leading cause of death among seniors. The CDC reports 28% of men and 21% of women over age 65 are living with cancer. If caught early through tests such as colonoscopies, mammograms, and dermatological screenings, many types of cancers are treatable.

Respiratory Diseases

Include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema and make seniors more vulnerable to pneumonia and other infections. See a doctor at the earliest signs of respiratory difficulty or infection. Having lung function tests, taking the correct medication as prescribed and using oxygen as instructed will go a long way toward preserving health and your quality of life.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Affects one in nine seniors, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, but, because diagnosis is often challenging, many more people may be living with this chronic condition. Cognitive impairment has a significant impact, from issues of safety and self-care to the need for supervision either at home or in a residential community. Staying mentally and physically active can help maintain brain health into the senior years and seeing a gerontologist when questions of cognitive impairment arise can provide coping and management help.

Osteoporosis

Contributes to less mobility and potential disability. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates over 54 million Americans over age 65 are affected by low bone density or osteoporosis, putting them at risk for a bone fracture or break. Because aging causes bones to shrink and muscles to lose strength and flexibility, seniors are more susceptible to losing their balance, resulting in a fall. Education, increased physical activity as we age, and practical modifications within the home, such as installing bathroom grab bars and eliminating throw rugs, can help prevent falls.

Diabetes

Affects 25% of people aged 65 years and older, but it can be identified and addressed early with a simple blood test for blood sugar levels. Early detection and treatment can control the disease and improve the long-term health outlook.

Influenza and Pneumonia

Are infections, not chronic conditions, but seniors are more vulnerable to these diseases and are less able to fight them off. Senior healthcare recommendations include getting an annual flu shot and pneumonia vaccine to prevent these infections and their life-threatening complications.

Obesity

Is a significant health risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer – all chronic conditions that impact your quality of life. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, according to the CDC. Of the adults between 65 and 74, 36% of men and 41% of women are obese.

Depression

Is a threat to senior health. It can lower immunity, compromising a person’s ability to fight infections. Treatment with medication and therapy, increasing physical activity, and interacting more with family and friends can help manage depression.

Getting older means more than greying hair, wrinkles and forgetfulness. It can present some very challenging health issues. Consult your physician even before any of these health risks surface, if possible, to help put you on a path to aging in the healthiest way.

Contact

In addition to housing, healthcare and programs for seniors, SALMON Health and Retirement communities offer support groups and resources for caregivers and family members. To learn more about the options available to you and your loved ones, contact us today by calling 800-446-8060 for more information.