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Most Common Senior Health Issues: Part 1
Posted: 8/4/2015 2:05 PM by
People in America today can expect to live longer than ever before. Once you make it to 65, the data suggest that you can live another 19.2 years, on average. For many, then, senior living includes vigilance and careful management of chronic conditions to stay healthy. A survey conducted by the Institute on Aging reports that 76% of people over age 65 say their health is good or excellent.
The challenge is to keep it that way! You need to be physically active, eat a healthy diet and make healthy lifestyle choices, like quitting smoking and losing weight to avoid senior health risks. Also, including a geriatrician, a doctor who specializes in the health concerns of aging, on your health care team can help older adults learn how to live better with any chronic diseases.
The most commonly reported senior health issues are:
Arthritis is probably the number one condition that people 65 or older contend with. It affects about 51 percent of all adults over 65 and can lead to pain and lower quality of life for some seniors. Although arthritis can discourage you from being active, it’s important to work with your doctor to develop a personalized activity plan that, along with other treatment, can help maintain mobility and relieve pain.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease remains the leading killer of adults over age 65, accounting for 1,156 deaths per 100,000 people in 2009, the most recent statistics. As a chronic condition, heart disease affects 37 percent of men and 26 percent of women 65 and older. As people age, they're increasingly living with risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, that increase the chances of having a stroke or developing heart disease. Exercise, eat well, get a good night’s rest. Take your medications exactly as prescribed!
Cancer is the second leading cause of death among people over age 65, with 982 deaths a year per 100,000 people. According to the CDC, 28 percent of men and 21 percent of women over age 65 are living with cancer. If caught early through screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and skin checks, many types of cancer are treatable. And though you're not always able to prevent cancer, you can improve quality of life as a senior living with cancer, including during treatment, by working with your medical team and maintaining their healthy senior living recommendations.
Chronic lower respiratory diseases, such as COPD, are the third most common cause of death among people 65 and older, annually taking 291 lives per 100,000 people. About 10 percent of men and 13 percent of women are living with asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema. Although having a chronic respiratory disease increases senior health risks, making you more vulnerable to infections such as pneumonia, getting lung function tests and taking the correct medications or using oxygen as instructed will go a long way toward preserving senior health and your quality of life.
Alzheimer’s disease accounts for about 184 deaths per 100,000 people over age 65 each year. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that as many as 5 million adults over 65 live with Alzheimer’s disease, but because diagnosis is challenging, it’s difficult to know exactly how many people are living with this chronic condition. However, experts acknowledge that cognitive impairment has a significant impact on senior health across the spectrum, from issues of safety and self-care to the cost burden of care in the home or a residential facility.
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