With medical advancements gaining more strides than ever before, folks today are living longer than in years past. In fact, the CDC indicates that once people reach age 65, they can live nearly 20 more years.
The key, say the experts, is identifying and managing illness properly and continuing to live as healthy of a lifestyle as possible. However, despite active and healthy living, there are specific health challenges that seniors face. Here are some of the top health issues to look out for.
Arthritis is one of the leading health issues that senior citizens often face. It is estimated that almost 50 percent of folks 65 and older have some form of arthritis. Symptoms can vary, and can range from joint pain and stiffness or swelling, muscle weakness, decreased range of motion and even fatigue; pain can be both sharp and intermittent.
Those who face the most risk of arthritis tend to be women and people who have a family history of the disease. Those with previous injury of the joints or those who are obese also face risks.
The treatment of arthritis depends on each unique case and can include a combination of medications that relive symptoms and help joints to function properly, as well as therapy and even holistic/alternative treatments like acupuncture. If none of these treatments are effective, doctors may suggest surgery to repair, fuse or replace joints.
As we age, the risk of cancer also increases. For women, the risk of cervical cancer decreases while the risk of endometrial cancer increases. And for men, the risk of prostate cancer increases with age. African-American men also have a higher risk of this type of cancer.
In fact, in folks over 65-years-old, cancer is the second leading cause of death. It’s estimated that there were over 413,000 senior citizen deaths caused by cancer in 2014. However, the good news is, when found early enough, many cancers can be treated and even cured.
Experts recommend that women, even those who have aged beyond childbearing years, continue to get their gynecological exams. They also say that men should begin getting prostate cancer screening during their 40s.
The CDC also says that heart disease kills more seniors than any other disease, with the disease affecting men and women alike. Risks for heart disease include high cholesterol and blood pressure and doctors suggest the best protection against heart disease is a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity, plenty of sleep and a healthful diet.
Most doctors recommend medication and lifestyle changes to treat heart disease. If these methods are unsuccessful, surgical procedures may be recommended.
Alzheimer’s disease affects one in nine seniors over the age of 65 and was the cause of death in over 92,000 seniors in 2014. The tricky part of this disease is it can often be difficult to diagnose. Doctor’s may perform cognitive tests that include tests of memory or problem solving, as well as blood and urine tests and brain scans to help diagnose Alzheimer’s.
Once diagnosed, the disease is treated with medication that includes cholinesterase inhibitors, which increase levels of cell communication, and Memantine, a drug that works with the brain cell communication network. The latter is typically used to treat more severe cases. In other cases, doctors also prescribe antidepressants to ease symptoms of the disease.
Above all, knowing the signs and symptoms to look out for in these common senior health issues can help tremendously in identifying any illnesses or challenges that may happen as you or your loved one ages; once identified and treated properly, seniors can still live a long and healthy life.