5 Common Health Conditions in the Elderly

Aging can be a difficult thing to do. As we get older, life can throw a few curves at us and it’s important to be prepared. Often we talk about financial independence as the primary area of concern as we get older. It is important to plan for one’s retirement years in advance. However, one of the top areas of concern that is suddenly thrust on an aging individual is their health and safety. Planning for Health Concerns should also be a top priority.  It is impossible to guess what will happen when you are older, but the following are several common health conditions in the Elderly.

5 Common Health Conditions

1.)  Memory Issues

Memory loss can be a common occurrence in the Elderly. There are normal age-related memory problems but there are also several significant medical conditions that cause memory loss. It is important as your family members or yourself ages, that you understand the difference.

Loss of memory on small things is normal. Forgetting where the keys are, or forgetting something is in the microwave can be a sign of a normal aging process. However, when that memory loss becomes intense, daily, and there is a loss of mental function and/or cognitive deficit – the cause may be more alarming. If the memory loss causes significant problems to having a productive life, that’s when seeking help is important.

When the concern of memory loss becomes more than being forgetful, it is important for the individual to have a complete medical work-up.

Potential Causes for Memory loss

1.)  Age
2.)  Stress
3.)  Anxiety
4.)  Lack of Sleep
5.)  Dementia
7.)  Alzheimer’s Disease
8.)  And more

2.)  Urinary Problems 

Bladder control issues such as leakage or urinary incontinence can happen as we get older. The ability to control these issues may decrease progressively over time. Urinary incontinence is when the person is not able to hold in their urine. This is an involuntary loss of control that includes muscles and urinary sphincter. It is much more common in women than men. Age, Obesity, Smoking, and other risk factors may be included.

Often, a person will have leakage after coughing, laughing, exercising, bending over, and more. For many women and men, it can be embarrassing. Women often see an increased amount of incontinence following pregnancy.

Bladder control and pelvic floor exercise – such as Kegel exercise can help prevent or reduce symptoms.

In men, urinary retention, from BPH [Benign Prostate Hypertrophy] can result in an inability to completely empty the bladder. As some men age, they often need to use the restroom more frequently, especially at night. An enlarged prostate can cause several problems. This condition increases as the age increases.  Treatment is often related to medications that shrink the prostate or allow better urinary flow.

Women can also have problems of being unable to empty the bladder.

Other potential problems related to age and urinary includes: Kidney problems, Prostate Cancer, and more.

3.)  Sleep Problems

According to research- it is a myth that older people need less sleep. Guidelines show that people over age 65 should get 7-8 hours of sleep at night.

Poor quality of sleep in the Elderly can significantly reduce the quality of life.  It is an area that is commonly overlooked.

It is common for older adults to experience changes in their sleep patterns. This could be caused by a number of reasons. Some of the most common reasons are overall health, other medical conditions, stress, Sleep Apnea, anxiety, changes to the body’s internal clock, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, obesity, and more.

It is extremely important to address both mental health and physical health in order to adequately address problems with sleep. Often the two issues are not clearly connected with the changes in sleep an older adult is experiencing.

Those elderly who report four or more health conditions often have less than 6 hours of sleep a night. Additionally, those who did sleep – reported a poorer quality of sleep and subsequently – sleep disorders.

In order to make up for sleep problems – the elderly are more likely to have daytime napping. More than 25% of older adults take naps. Sometimes this can be beneficial – if done occasionally – patterns of behavior changes can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night and the cycle becomes more difficult to change.

4.)  Joint pains

Not all joint pains can be associated with age-related changes. Some of the joint pains are because of specific medical conditions and often joint pains will decrease or improve if appropriate treatment is undertaken.

Some of the treatments may be weight loss, better nutrition, exercising, or changes to the exercise patterns, supplements, medications, joint replacement surgery, and more.

Joint pains can seriously affect every aspect of your life. Pain can affect your mood, your movement, your relationships, your sleep patterns, and much more. To say that pain is part of life only shows the length required to get appropriate treatment. Letting pain happen without seeking help will cause significant changes to life expectancy, happiness, and quality of life.

Potential Causes of Joint pains:

1.)  Arthritis
2.)  Gout
3.)  Pseudogout
4.)  Diabetes
5.)  Need for joint replacement
6.)  Rheumatoid Arthritis
7.)  Obesity
8.)  Lack of movement
9.)  Fibromyalgia
10.)  Many more

It is vitally important to treat joint pain correctly. Without appropriate treatment the patient could experience increase depression, feeling of worthlessness, and even more serious problems.

Treatment could be as simple as some medications, good footwear, and some better exercise options.

5.)  Diabetes

Diabetes can be seen at any age. However, the elderly have been living longer with diabetes and therefore have more significant risks. More than 25% of all the U.S population, over the age of 65, has diabetes. This is a large number of individuals who have an increasing burden of cost, medications, treatment, and complications.

Diabetes is an expensive medical condition because most diabetics need more than one medication. Sometimes they need several. Complications of diabetes includes: feet/leg pains, eyesight loss, cardiovascular events, kidney problems, strokes, and much more.

Obesity, poor health, poor exercise, and poor eating are some of the most common causes of diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has suggested that if something isn’t done soon – the rates of diabetes may double in the next 20 years. They fear that the number of diabetics aged 65 or greater will increase 5 fold. This will add an additional burden to hospitals, medical clinics, and will cost millions of extra dollars.

The quality of life, life expectancy will change dramatically if Diabetes levels continue to worsen. For those numbers to increase – those individuals are currently 40-55 and are trending to have increased problems over the next 10-15 years.

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