Various physical and mental illnesses can affect anyone at any stage of life. For example, ear infections are quite common in childhood, while mental health problems (such as anxiety and depression) are becoming more common in adolescence and early adulthood. One of the biggest reasons for ailments can be attributed to us not taking care of our physical health. Neglecting mental health can also be a possible cause of certain mental illnesses. This can worsen as we age, making us more susceptible to certain illnesses.
The risk for cancer increases as we age. Women are at higher risks for breast and cervical cancers, while men are at a higher risk for prostate cancer. Both genders have a slightly increased risk for other cancers, such as colon cancer, and a family history further increases all of these risks. Regular doctor’s visits and screenings is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of dying from cancer. Eating a healthy diet and exercising can also decrease the risk of developing cancer.
About a quarter of all senior citizens (adults over the age of 64) have type 2 diabetes. The risk for diabetes begins to increase around the age of 45, and other risk factors include lack of physical activity and being overweight. As we age, we have a tendency to become less active, which can contribute to becoming overweight. Eating poorly is also a major factor that contributes to becoming diabetic. The risk for developing diabetes can be decreased with a proper diet and regular exercise.
The leading cause of death among senior citizens is heart disease. Factors that contribute to heart disease include high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Again, lack of physical activity can play a role in increasing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as constantly eating unhealthy foods. Healthy lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating, getting physically active and stopping bad habits like smoking can greatly decrease your chances of developing heart disease.
Loss of Senses
The loss of senses, such as hearing and vision, is more common the older we get. Almost half of those experiencing hearing loss are senior citizens, and eye problems like cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration are more common as we age. It’s important to protect our hearing as much as possible when we’re younger, to avoid going completely deaf later in life. This means reducing exposure to loud noises whenever possible. As for eye health, foods high in vitamin A and beta carotene are said to be beneficial for vision.
Our bones become less dense and weaken over time, making senior citizens more at risk for osteoporosis. We begin to lose bone mass around the age of 30, and millions of non-senior citizens (specifically those between the ages of 50 and 64) already have osteoarthritis, which is the deterioration of the joints, rather than the bones. To better the health of our bones and joints, we need to stay physically active, engaging in walking, stretching, and weightlifting, depending on our individual physical abilities.
We all forget things from time to time, but it becomes an issue when it starts to affect our daily lives. This is what dementia is, and Alzheimer’s disease is probably the most well-known type of dementia. Sufferers have trouble remembering, reasoning, and thinking, and are typically over the age of 85. Keeping the mind sharp and active by reading, doing crossword puzzles, and other mental exercises may be helpful in preventing or prolonging certain types of dementia.
Seniors with this disorder almost always have to live in nursing homes, and their condition, unfortunately, makes them more susceptible to nursing home abuse; as such, you’ll want to make sure that if your older adult winds up going to a nursing home, you have the number of a professional who can advocate for your loved one, should anything untoward happen.
Although depression is most common in young adults (those aged 18-29), it is still fairly common in senior citizens. This can be due to the fact that many senior citizens are often isolated from the outside world, whether they’re in nursing homes or even if they’re living in their own homes. Fortunately, staying socially active is an effective way to prevent depression caused by isolation.
Even though certain health conditions can’t be avoided, they can possibly be delayed, or less severe in nature by making healthy lifestyle choices. Abstaining from dangerous substances, eating healthy, and staying physically active are all ways to promote good health.