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Top Health Concerns for Seniors

Top health concerns for seniors - Just Like Family Homecare

As we age, not only do we feel older mentally, but physically as well. For seniors, health conditions follow age, and the older we get the more susceptible we become. Fortunately, modern medicine has extended the average life span of humans in many developed, and non-developed countries.

In order to know what to look out for you need to be aware of the potential risk for disease as you age. We’re going to list the top health concerns for seniors and then talk about how you can lower your risk for certain diseases.

Health Concerns for Seniors

Arthritis

Arthritis is one of the biggest health concerns for older people. At least 50 million US adults have some form of arthritis, most commonly among women and the elderly.

If you want to learn more about what arthritis is and how to treat it, check out our article on managing arthritis.

Cancer

Cancer is not just affecting the elderly, it affects us all. As of 2014, it has been the second leading cause of death for those over 65 based on CDC data. It’s important to schedule regular checks and screenings to catch and treat early forms of cancer.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is typically known for affecting seniors. It’s a chronic condition that affects cognitive functioning and it’s still hard to diagnose correctly. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 9 people over age 65 and a 3rd of those over 85 have Alheimer’s.

How to spot the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease

Osteoporosis

The National Osteoporosis Foundation has found that 54 million Americans have this condition. The disease is caused by multiple factors such as cancer, medicine, genes, age, and sex.

We have another article just on Osteoporosis, the types, and prevention methods.

Falls

Slips and falls are more likely and more dangerous as we age. A typical fall for a teenager may end with bumps and bruises, and it could mean broken bones for a senior. According to the NCOA, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for those over 65.

6 Steps for Preventing Falls Among Your Older Loved Ones

Pneumonia and the Flu

Seniors are not only more susceptible to catching the flu and pneumonia but also are more at risk of death due to them. It’s recommended that you get an annual flu shot and see your doctor for any flu like symptoms.

Shingles

The National Institutes of Health has found that one in three people over age 60 will get shingles. It can cause severe pain, rash, and blisters on one side of the body. There is a vaccine available so ask your doctor if it’s right for you.

What can I do now to lower my risks?

First off, you need to quit smoking. “But it’s just one cigarette every now and then.” This is a common excuse for those who say they’re not addicted to cigarettes. But why not just quit altogether? More and more research is coming out about just what cigarettes can do to our bodies….and it’s not looking good.

Second, get yourself in the healthy lifestyle mindset. Don’t just diet for a few weeks and say it’s not for you. You need to find a healthy medium that allows you to eat right, exercise, and eat the foods you enjoy every now and then. One of the leading risks of health disorders is being overweight. If you can catch it early and correct it, you’ll save yourself from the complications that come with being overweight or obese like diabetes, gout, certain heart diseases, and more.

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What’s Osteoporosis and how do you manage it?

We hear about osteoporosis, sometimes on TV, in magazine ads, or online, but what is it exactly and what is causing it?

It’s a condition that plagues 54 million Americans, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. It’s a disease that occurs due to too little bone creation or too much bone loss. It’s especially harmful to older people with the disease, as a slight bump or fall can result in the breaking of bones.

The term Osteoporosis means “porous bone”, and when viewed under a microscope it does not appear solid, but rather spacious like a honeycomb.

understanding-osteoporosis-infographic

From NJhealth.org

What Causes Osteoporosis?

There are many factors that can affect bone loss from cancer to blood disorders to autoimmune disorders. Medicines like antiseizure medicine Dilantin, chemotherapy drugs, Lithium, and prednisone have been known to cause bone loss.

Things like genes, age, and sex can also be factors for a risk of osteoporosis.

Autoimmune Disorders

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis

Digestive and Gastrointestinal Disorders

  • Celiac disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Weight loss surgery

Medical Procedures

  • Gastrectomy
  • Gastrointestinal bypass procedures

Cancer

  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer

Hematologic/Blood Disorders

  • Leukemia and lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Sickle cell disease

Neurological/Nervous System Disorders

  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Spinal cord injuries

Blood and bone marrow disorders

  • Thalassemia

Mental Illness

  • Depression
  • Eating disorders

Endocrine/Hormonal Disorders

  • Diabetes
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Thyrotoxicosis
  • Irregular periods
  • Premature menopause
  • Low levels of testosterone and estrogen in men

Other Diseases and Conditions

  • AIDS/HIV
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema
  • Female athlete triad (includes loss of menstrual periods, an eating disorder and excessive exercise)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Liver disease, including biliary cirrhosis
  • Organ transplants
  • Polio and post-polio syndrome
  • Poor diet, including malnutrition
  • Scoliosis
  • Weight loss

List provided by the National Osteoporosis Foundation

How Can You Prevent It?

There are several activities you can take part in to help prevent your risk for Osteoporosis. These include changing your nutrition, and exercising.

Foods that are good for your bones:

  • Dairy products (low fat, non-fat milk, yogurt, cheese)
  • Fish (salmon, sardines, tuna)
  • Fruits (Plantains, strawberries, oranges, pineapples, papaya)
  • Vegetables (Broccoli, kale, okra, turnip greens, sweet potatoes, spinach, red peppers, etc)
  • Foods fortified with Vitamin D and Calcium

Foods to eat less of:

  • Beans (Can interfere with body’s ability to absorb calcium contained in beans, might help to soak beans in water for several hours)
  • Meat/High protein foods (Eat enough, but not too much)
  • Salty foods (Causes body to lose calcium)
  • Alcohol (Limit to 2-3 drinks per day)
  • Caffeine (Drink in moderation)
  • Soft Drinks (Colas)

As for exercises, The National Osteoporosis Foundation has a great list of specific exercises you can do that may help strengthen your bones. Check out the list here.


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Medical Advice from the ‘Net

If you’re looking for elderly-specific advice on some difficult medical issues, we’ve got you covered.  Check out these links for a lot of great information.

 

ALZHEIMER’S

CANCER

DENTAL

DIABETES

EXERCISE

HEART DISEASE

INSOMNIA

NUTRITION

OSTEOPOROSIS

STROKE

 


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General Health Tips for Seniors

If you’re over 65, staying healthy and in shape takes on a few extra dimensions.  It’s much harder, it takes much more work, and your body is much more finicky about what you can and can’t do than it was just a few years earlier.  It can be very hard to do it, but staying fit and healthy is essential for long and happy Golden Years!  Parent Giving shared a great list of tips that we would like to share with you to help you get started.  They may not all apply to you or your lifestyle, but whichever of them do are definitely to be kept in mind.  You can find the original here.

cardio-training-for-senior-women

  1. Quit smoking. Take this critical step to improve your health and combat aging. Smoking kills by causing cancer, strokes and heart failure. Smoking leads to erectile dysfunction in men due to atherosclerosis and to excessive wrinkling by attacking skin elasticity. Many resources are available to help you quit.
  2. Keep active. Do something to keep fit each day—something you enjoy that maintains strength, balance and flexibility and promotes cardiovascular health. Physical activity helps you stay at a healthy weight, prevent or control illness, sleep better, reduce stress, avoid falls and look and feel better, too.
  3. Eat well. Combined with physical activity, eating nutritious foods in the right amounts can help keep you healthy. Many illnesses, such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis, can be prevented or controlled with dietary changes and exercise. Calcium and vitamin D supplements can help women prevent osteoporosis.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Use the Kaiser Permanente BMI (body mass index) calculator to find out what you should weigh for your height. Get to your healthy weight and stay there by eating right and keeping active. Replace sugary drinks with water—water is calorie free!
  5. Prevent falls. We become vulnerable to falls as we age. Prevent falls and injury by removing loose carpet or throw rugs. Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter, and use night-lights in hallways and bathrooms. Did you know that people who walk barefoot fall more frequently? Wear shoes with good support to reduce the risk of falling.
  6. Stay up-to-date on immunizations and other health screenings. By age 50, women should begin mammography screening for breast cancer. Men can be checked for prostate cancer. Many preventive screenings are available. Those who are new to Medicare are entitled to a “Welcome to Medicare” visit and all Medicare members to an annual wellness visit. Use these visits to discuss which preventative screenings and vaccinations are due.
  7. Prevent skin cancer. As we age, our skin grows thinner; it becomes drier and less elastic. Wrinkles appear, and cuts and bruises take longer to heal. Be sure to protect your skin from the sun. Too much sun and ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer.
  8. Get regular dental, vision and hearing checkups. Your teeth and gums will last a lifetime if you care for them properly—that means daily brushing and flossing and getting regular dental checkups. By age 50, most people notice changes to their vision, including a gradual decline in the ability to see small print or focus on close objects. Common eye problems that can impair vision include cataracts and glaucoma. Hearing loss occurs commonly with aging, often due to exposure to loud noise.
  9. Manage stress. Try exercise or relaxation techniques—perhaps meditation or yoga—as a means of coping. Make time for friends and social contacts and fun. Successful coping can affect our health and how we feel. Learn the role of positive thinking.
  10. Fan the flame. When it comes to sexual intimacy and aging, age is no reason to limit your sexual enjoyment. Learn about physical changes that come with aging and get suggestions to help you adjust to them, if necessary.