Health Problems That Are Common Amongst the Elderly

By Patrick Banks

Posted 3 weeks agoHEALTH

As medicine advances, the average life expectancy is increasing, meaning there are more older adults in the population than ever before. 

The advancements in medicine have enabled us to prevent or slow down the rate of development of certain diseases. However, researchers have not yet figured out how to prevent the natural processes of aging.

We all expect to experience deteriorating vision and hearing, reduced mobility, hip fractures, and a plethora of other irreversible health conditions. We expect to be walking more slowly or using a Zimmer frame to move around.

While we’re living longer as a general population and more of us will be celebrating our birthdays well into our 80s and 90s, we still need to take precautions to keep ourselves healthy. So, being aware of the most common medical conditions that elderly people face is important!

Although some age-related conditions result from wear and tear on the body over time, others are worsened by poor lifestyle habits. In this article, we’re going to cover the most common health problems that older adults experience so that you can make positive lifestyle changes to stay as healthy as possible.

Here are the most common health problems that older adults experience.

Loss of Hearing

While there are other causes of hearing loss, such as genetic conditions and trauma to the air, age-related hearing is one of the most common types. You won’t need to look far to see older adults wearing hearing aids.

The first symptom of age-related hearing loss is the inability to perceive high frequency sounds. Elderly adults might struggle to hear the birds chirping and they might not be able to distinguish between similar-sounding consonants, such as ‘f’ and ‘s’.

Hearing loss is often irreversible and incurable. However, there are aids and equipment that older adults can use to maximize their hearing, such as hearing aids, audio loop listeners, and amplifiers.

Arthritis

Arthritis is one of the most common health conditions that affect the older population, with the majority of people aged above 65 experiencing symptoms. The main symptoms of arthritis or pain and swelling around the joints, which leads to reduced mobility and stiffness.

Arthritis can significantly reduce the quality of life as it prevents elderly people from doing the things that they once loved. There are two main types of arthritis – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

In old individuals, osteoarthritis is more common. It results from wear and tear on the joints due to years and years of use. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect people of all ages and is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune cells attack the lining of the joints.

There is very little that you can do to prevent wear and tear on the joints as you go through your life. However, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a nutritious diet will keep your body in the best shape, which reduces stress and pressure on the joints.

Visual Impairment or Blindness

Vision loss affects millions of older adults across the world, and it can range from mild to severe. The most common cause of blindness in the older population is age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is caused by a build-up of deposits on an area of the eye called the macula.

Although eye health conditions that can lead to visual impairment or vision loss are cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetes. Treatment options include surgery and eye drops. The best treatment option will depend on the type and severity of the condition.

Getting your eyes checked at least once every two years is essential. Professional optometrists will be able to check the health of both eyes and provide expert advice on how you can prevent vision deterioration.

Cancer

One in every two people will develop cancer at some point in their lives. It can occur at any age, but the risk increases with age.

Cancer is caused by changes in the DNA that makes the body’s cells grow at an abnormal rate. The DNA changes can happen sporadically but certain things can increase the risk of cancer development, such as smoking, alcohol or drug abuse, obesity, exposure to environmental toxins and heavy metals, and exposure to radiation.

There are multiple types of cancer, with some being more common than others. The most common forms are cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, and lungs.

The symptoms of cancer can differ depending on where the cancer is in the body. However, there are certain symptoms that you can look out for, such as unusual lumps, changes in moles, itchy skin, or blood in the stool, urine, or vomit.

Current treatments include chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Although these treatments are not cures, they can slow down the rate of tumor cell growth, extend the person’s life, and improve their quality of life.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is another common condition amongst the elderly population. Other medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and autoimmune disorders, can worsen the kidney’s function, and this may lead to chronic disease. Alcohol abuse can also worsen kidney health.

Common symptoms of chronic kidney disease include shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, blood in the urine (haematuria), and swelling in the hands and feet.

There is currently no cure for CKD but there are treatment options. In mild to moderate cases, dialysis if offered. Dialysis uses a specialized machine that mimics the normal function of the kidneys to relieve some of the pressure off the kidneys.

Common symptoms of chronic kidney disease include shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, blood in the urine (haematuria), and swelling in the hands and feet. 

Depending on the stage of kidney disease, dialysis might be needed multiple times a week. If the kidney disease is beyond a reasonable treatment level, a kidney transplant might be required.

For a successful transplant, the donor must have the same blood group as the patient to prevent the body from rejecting the new kidney.

About the author Patrick Banks

Patrick is a Berlin-based dating advisor, motivational speaker, a huge fitness and vegan diet enthusiast and the main editor at Wingman Magazine, specialised in men's health. His ultimate goal is to share with men around the world his passion for self-development and to help them to become the greatest version of themselves. He believes a healthy body and successful social interactions are two main keys to happiness.