As seniors, there are many different age-related illnesses you should be aware of. Down below I have listed some different diseases, including how best to take care of yourself, or someone you love. This includes before and after your doctor has established a diagnosis.
Dementia… What is it?
Dementia is the overall term for different diseases, which all have the loss of memory, and thinking skills to where they affect everyday life, as a common denominator.
The brain is a complex body part and responsible for a lot of different functions. When cells in one region are damaged, this region can no longer carry out its proper function, thus not functioning normally. This is what causes dementia.
Dementia, however, is not just one thing. As mentioned before it is the common designation for different diseases that all have the loss of memory at center.
Age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease dementia, syphilis, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and normal pressure hydrocephalus are all diseases that are categorized as dementia types.
Sometimes you might hear someone refer to dementia as senility or senile dementia, which is an incorrect use of the term. This would imply that the loss of memory and cognitive skills are a normal part of growing old. However, it is not!
"Dementia is a quite progressive disease, which basically means that it starts out slowly but will gradually get worse"
Catching the disease early can improve quality of life, either for yourself or a loved one.
To treat, or even cure, dementia is entirely dependent on the specific type. If the dementia is very progressive or labeled as Alzheimer’s, there is no cure. However, there are drug treatments and ways to prepare as next of kin.
Whenever you hear someone talk about heart diseases, you should know that there are a lot of different conditions under that umbrella. Some of the most common are heart attacks, heart diseases, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve problems.
But what exactly causes a heart attack?
Well, typically a heart attack is the result of a blood clot. That clot will obstruct the blood flow, which then derives the heart of oxygen, causing the muscles to die.
A heart attack can be caused by a variety of factors, but the most common factors are tobacco, mental health problems, and drugs.
A heart attack is also connected to the build-up of cholesterol in a person’s vein. The cholesterol in your blood will harden and narrow the vascular system, which in turn restricts blood flow. This will derive your body of the oxygen it needs and in turn cause life-threatening blood clots.
Fortunately, cholesterol is not a set in stone condition, it is something you can change.
"By leading a healthy lifestyle you can control your cholesterol levels and prevent heart attacks"
As people age, they might experience a rise in blood pressure. In fact, systolic blood pressure rises with age, which basically means that when you become older your risk for high blood pressure will increase.
Can you prevent heart attacks?
As well as cholesterol is something you can control, you can also help to prevent heart attacks by living healthy and exercising on a regular basis.
Smoking is also a mayor no-go by heart standards. If you quit smoking you can increase your chance of a long life dramatically.
As the heart is a complex organ but there are different ways of taking care of your heart, both physically and mentally. Exercising on a regular basis is a great way to start. Another could be going to regular checks at your doctors.
Are you experiencing difficulty hearing?
As human beings, our ability to hear, is what connects us to other humans. But as we all grow older our body’s will go through different changes. One of them is the age-related hearing loss. This type of hearing loss will happen gradually and is a common condition in elders.
Age-related hearing loss occurs in both ears, affecting them equally. Because the loss of hearing happens gradually you might not even notice, that you are slowly losing your ability to hear.
Why is hearing loss inevitable as people grow older?
As it is it can be quite hard to distinguish age-related hearing loss from that of exposure to loud noises over a long-term time.
"Scientists are researching prevention of hearing loss on a daily basis"
The noise-induced hearing loss is caused, because the small sensory hair cells, which allow us to hear, are damaged. Once they are damaged, they do not regenerate themselves thus causing hear-loss.
If you suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes, the medicines connected to these diseases might also contribute to hearing loss. Most seniors, who experience hearing-loss, will typically experience a mix between the two.
Can you prevent hearing loss?
As of now, there is no cure. Because the cause of hearing loss, on a more molecular basis, is yet to be discovered a cure is still being researched.
Some seniors may experience, that as they grow older they become more likely to fall. This is usually because they may not be as sturdy on their feet as they use to be. A wobbly balance, or balance issues in general, can also cause falls.
There are many risk factors for falling, especially if you are a senior. You might need a cast to repair broken bones, you might need surgery, or you’ll get hospitalized for a period of time. In some cases, you will need to enter some sort of physical rehab after your fall.
In some cases a solid pair of shoes can help prevent falls.
"According to a study in American Journal of Emergency Medicine 1 in 3 people who go the emergency room, for a fall, will find themselves there again within a year"
If you instead exercise on a regular basis, you can lower your risk of falling. There are a lot of ways to prevent falls, especially if you stay moving and active.
Most falls happen at home, where tripping hazards include area rugs and slippery bathroom floors. Be aware of tripping hazards at home as well.
It is not unlikely for seniors to experience problems with their balance.
A lot of seniors can testify to the fact that getting older will affect your balance. Balance problems can be caused by different factors such as inner ear problems, medications, and/or chronic conditions.
"Having a proper balance means that you are able to maintain your body’s center of gravity over your base of support as you stand and move"
It is important to remember that falling is not a normal part of aging but rather a lack in stability.
Although aging can be a contributing factor, sometimes age has nothing to do with balance problems. Maintaining a good balance is important and can be developed, and maintained, by performing different exercises.
As soon as you get up from a chair, take a walk, or even climb stairs there is a collaboration between the brain, nervous system, muscles, and bones. This helps to keep you from falling.
The key to maintaining a good balance is to continuously work on upper body and lower body strength.
According to geriatrician Marie Bernard, MD, arthritis is the number one condition that seniors are battling. But what exactly is arthritis?
Arthritis is not a single disease, in fact, there are more than 100 different types of arthritis. It is an inflammation of joints and in some cases, it can be quite painful. The rate at which the disease develops differs from person to person.
This illness typically includes symptoms such as swelling and stiffness. It can also decrease your range of motion. Symptoms may come and go, and they typically range from mild, to moderate, to severe.
If you are experiencing a severe case of arthritis it might result in chronic pain and the inability to perform daily activities. In some cases, it can even affect your ability to walk and/or climb stairs.
Another side effect of arthritis is the visible effects of the illness.
"Some people may experience that having arthritis in their fingers can cause knobby finger joints"
Often though, it is more likely that the only way you can see the damage is by x-ray. Some types of arthritis can also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys, and skin.
As mentioned before there are a lot of different types of arthritis, some of these include degenerative arthritis, inflammatory arthritis, infectious arthritis, and metabolic arthritis.
Respiratory diseases – who does it affect?
"Nearly 15% of senior adults in the US suffer from lung disorders such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)"
If you are suffering from one of these diseases you will probably experience reduced airflow and shortness of breath. Asthma is a quite manageable disease as the only thing you need, is to always have your inhaler on you.
Asthma is an illness where your airways will narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. Whenever this happens you will experience breathing difficulties, which can trigger coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. This is when you will need your inhaler to help soften the breathing ways.
A chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is caused by the inhalation of smoke and other particle substances. COPD is characterized by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. Symptoms of COPD will usually worsen over time. Although the illness cannot be cured there are different ways of treatment.
The best treatment is to quit smoking altogether and stay away from polluted areas.