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Common Senior Health Issues Part 2
Posted: 7/18/2017 8:34 AM by
Osteoporosis can contribute to becoming less mobile and potentially disabled should you fall and have a fracture. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that 52 million Americans are affected by low bone mass or osteoporosis, putting them at risk for a fracture or break that could lead to poor senior health and reduced quality of life.
Roughly 24 percent of men and 18 percent of women older than 65, are living with diabetes, a significant senior health risk. According to CDC data, diabetes causes 121 deaths annually among 100,000 adults over age 65. Diabetes can be identified and addressed early with simple blood tests for blood sugar levels. The sooner you know that you have or are at risk for diabetes, the sooner you can start making changes to control the disease and improve your long-term senior health outlook.
Influenza and Pneumonia
Although the flu and pneumonia are not chronic conditions, these infections are among the top seven causes of death in people over age 65, at 104 per 100,000 adults a year. Seniors are more vulnerable to these diseases and less able to fight them off. Senior health care recommendations include getting an annual flu shot and getting the pneumonia vaccine if recommended by your doctor to prevent these infections and their life-threatening complications.
Falls and Other Injuries
The number of physical injuries from falls, accidents, and violence is hard to track, but data from the CDC suggest that 29.1 percent of emergency room visits by seniors are related to injury and 13.5 percent are due to unintentional falls. It's also known that the risk for falls requiring emergency room care increases with age. Most falls occur in the home, where tripping hazards include area rugs and slippery bathroom floors, poor lighting and clutter.
An analysis of data from the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions suggests that one in five people over 65 have had a substance or alcohol abuse problem at some point in their lives. Alcohol and tobacco topped the list of nonmedical substances abused by survey participants. Substance and alcohol abuse are a concern for senior health because of possible interactions with prescription medications, their impact on overall health, and the increased senior health risks, such as falls, associated with intoxication.
About 40 percent of adults 65 to 74 years old are obese, although that proportion drops somewhat after age 75, to 27.8 percent. Obesity is an important senior health risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer -- chronic conditions that impact quality of life. It can also be a signal that an older adult isn’t as active or mobile as he or she once was.
About 16 percent of women over age 65 and 11 percent of men of that age report symptoms that suggest clinical depression, a threat to senior health. Depression appears to become more common as people age. In addition to treatment with medication and therapy to improve mood, possible solutions to improve senior living might be to increase physical activity -- only 11 percent of seniors meet national recommendations for exercise -- or to interact more socially -- seniors report spending just 8 to 11 percent of their free time with family and friends.
Healthy teeth and gums are important not just for a pretty smile and easy eating, but also for overall senior health. According to the CDC, 25 percent of women and 24 percent of men over 65 have no natural teeth. As you age, your mouth tends to become dryer and cavities are more difficult to prevent, so proper oral health care, including regular dental checkups, should be a senior health care priority.
About 9 percent of adults over 65 are living in poverty. Older women are slightly more likely than men to be living in poverty, and single older adults are also significantly more likely to live alone with fewer resources. Poverty affects senior health if you're unable to afford doctor visits, medication for chronic conditions, and other essential senior health care needs.
Many senior health issues are manageable with help at home. Regular contact and observation by home health care providers can prevent the progression of chronic disease and complications. Early interventions and education regarding available community resources can provide valuable and timely assistance for maintaining quality of life at home at any age.