When you’re young and are full of energy, health issues are often the last thing on your mind. As you get a little older and approach middle age things may start popping up, but generally speaking, your health probably isn’t worrying you too much. Then comes your golden years, your senior years. For many this is a time to be free to do whatever you like, making the most of your retirement. The stress and pressures of work are done, leaving you to spend time with family and friends, explore, travel, and just enjoy yourself. But your body doesn’t always cooperate with the plans you have.
Here’s a look at three common health issues that can occur during your senior years, and some tips on how to deal with the ailments.
Hearing Loss Affects Approximately 30% of Seniors
Did you know that hearing loss is so common among seniors that approximately 30% suffer from a mild to profound hearing loss by the time they are 65 years old? This percentage increases with age, as it hits almost 50% by the time they are 75 years old. Unfortunately, not every senior realizes or admits to having problems with their hearing, which means they don’t seek out treatments that can help, such as a hearing aid. While hearing loss can’t be reversed, a hearing aid can be life-changing in its effects.
There are many signs and symptoms to watch for that can signal hearing loss such as having to listen to the radio or television on a louder volume setting, having a hard time hearing on the phone, not being able to hear people speak in crowded or busy venues, thinking people are mumbling, and finding background noise drowns out the sound. Did you also know there are various types and causes of hearing loss? This is something a doctor would be able to discuss with you.
There’s no need to wait until you suspect you have a hearing problem to go get a hearing test. Instead, it’s recommended that seniors in particular find an audiologist as soon as possible to get tested. You can find a hearing care specialist by visiting links such as phonak.com/us/en/find-a-hearing-care-specialist.html. As for how often you should get a hearing test, it is recommended you go yearly once you turn 60 years old.
Osteoporosis or Osteoarthritis Can Affect Mobility
Another issue that can be age-related is Osteoporosis or Osteoarthritis. By the time a person reaches 80 years old, the vast majority have some form of osteoarthritis. It can be mild or more severe, but chances are they have it.
Osteoporosis means your bones are porous and that you are losing too much bone mass. Your bones will become brittle and thin, which means it is much easier to suffer a broken bone should you fall. It is more common in people over the age of 50 and women are at higher risk of developing it. A bone density test is done to help spot the early signs of osteoporosis, as the person may not yet have symptoms.
There are also preventative steps people can take such as eating a healthy diet, making sure you get enough vitamin D and calcium, and doing weight-bearing exercises to keep your body strong and fit. These can include walking, dancing, weight training, light jogging, tennis, and stair climbing.
Osteoarthritis refers to the cartilage between the bone in a specific joint being worn down. It is a form of arthritis and has some of the common symptoms arthritis sufferers have such as swelling, pains, stiffness, aching, and a decrease in flexibility and motion. The most common joints to be affected are the knees, hands, and hips, but that doesn’t mean other areas of the body can’t develop osteoarthritis.
Treatment typically involves muscle strengthening exercises, physical activity, weight loss, physical therapy, using a crutch or cane for support, medications, and possibly surgery if other treatments haven’t worked. Doctors recommend that seniors focus on low-impact exercises that keep their joints healthy and strong as a way to prevent osteoarthritis from forming. Keeping a healthy body weight and making sure your blood sugar stays regular are also important.
Memory Loss and General Cognitive Decline Can Be Warning Signs
While it seems harmless enough to blame forgetfulness on “getting older”, it’s important you also pay attention because these can be early warning signs for more serious issues such as Alzheimer’s disease. Memory loss and cognitive decline can occur in your senior years, so if you start to notice it happening regularly, it’s wise to talk to your doctor.
There are some early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease that you should be aware of. These signs include:
- Having a hard time solving problems that require concentration
- Issues with writing or speaking
- Memory loss that is so common it occurs daily and affects life
- Dates, times, and places start to become confusing
- Familiar tasks become hard
- A difference in personality and/or mood
These aren’t the only signs and they don’t necessarily mean you have Alzheimer’s disease. What these signs do mean is that further investigation by your doctor is warranted.
Unfortunately, doctors and researchers have yet to determine the exact cause of the disease, but there are some ways you can help to reduce your risk of developing it. The main advice is to live a healthy lifestyle by eating a well-balanced diet, not smoking, exercising daily, limiting your alcohol intake, keeping diabetes controlled, and keeping blood pressure controlled. Many doctors also recommend seniors stay socially and mentally active, as it can help to reduce the risk level of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Just a Small Glimpse of the Common Issues
As you can see this is just a very small glimpse of some of the health issues that tend to be more common among seniors. The main takeaway for seniors is to stay on top of their health, be aware of any new issues or red flags, follow up with a doctor should they have concerns, and embrace preventative measures in their lifestyle.