Health issues can arise at any age, but the following chronic illnesses become more likely for those 65 and older.
- Arthritis- Arthritis is the overarching term used to describe over 200 conditions that result in joint inflammation. Although it can result in impaired movement, one of the best ways to relieve symptoms is physical activity. Physicians may prescribe a dedicated movement regimen that works to loosen affected joints.
- Heart Disease- Heart disease describes any condition that affects the heart. Fortunately, many forms of heart disease can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle. Mayo Clinic is a great resource for learning more about heart disease symptoms. If you have any concerns about heart disease, you should bring them up with your primary care physician.
- Cancer- Although cancer affects every age group, cancer risk increases exponentially for adults 65 and older, who account for 60% of cancer diagnoses. The most common cancers in older adults are prostate, bladder, pancreatic, and lung cancer.
- Respiratory Diseases- The most common respiratory diseases in older adults include respiratory tract infections, tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and bronchial asthma.
- Alzheimer’s Disease- Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that results when healthy brain neurons stop working. Symptoms include memory loss, cognitive impairment, and inability to complete everyday tasks.
- Osteoporosis- Adults age 65 or older account for about 70% of osteoporosis cases. Osteoporosis is a disease which results in the breakdown of bone structure, causing increased risk for fractures.
- Type 2 Diabetes- Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include tiredness, increased hunger or thirst, urinating often, or blurred vision. Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable with a healthy diet and exercise.
- Flu and Pneumonia- Since flu may cause pneumonia, especially in older adults with a weakened immune system, it is highly recommended that those over the age of 65 receive the high dose flu shot annually.
- Depression- Although many life changes such as loss of a loved one, or retirement, may result in feelings of stress or unease, these feelings should subside after a normal period of adjustment. If you feel sad for extended periods of time, have trouble sleeping, or are more irritable than usual, be sure to let your primary care physician know.
- Shingles- Shingles is a virus (the same type of virus that causes chicken pox) which causes a seriously painful rash that can occur on any part of the body. Thankfully, there is a shingles vaccine, which is recommended for anyone age 50 or older, regardless of whether or not you had chicken pox when you were younger.
Although family history can certainly play a role in many of these conditions, a healthy diet and exercise regimen, as well as regular health screenings with your primary care physician can aid in reducing your risk.