Getting older can bring many health challenges. Therefore, it is vital to have knowledge of what to look out for and what to do. Identifying health concerns is the first step towards improving your wellbeing. The following concerns are particularly common amongst seniors.
Rising rates of obesity are a serious health concern, even amongst adults. Obesity is an important senior health risk factor that can lead to the development of other health issues in the elderly, and all other ages. Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are three chronic conditions that impact the quality of life. It is common knowledge that the number on the scales and the risk of disease can be seen as parallel. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as of 2016 more than 650 million adults around the world were considered obese. This is triple the figure in 1975.
But, what is obesity? It is a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat, diagnosed when your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher.
If you’re concerned about weight-related health problems, it is time to see a doctor about obesity management. The concerns may be about you or a loved one, which is fine. Taking action with a doctor who can evaluate your health risks and discuss your weight-loss options is the best solution. Maintaining a healthy weight is key to avoiding further health complications.
Many elderly people in Ireland develop arthritis in later life. In fact, there are over 900,000 people living in Ireland who have a type of arthritis. This makes arthritis the leading cause of disability.
There are several types of arthritis, the most common of which are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. However, all forms of arthritis cause pain in the joints. Osteoarthritis involves a thinning of the protective layer between bones, whereas other conditions are autoimmune disorders. This means the body’s immune system begins to attack the protective layer, leading to inflammation.
Most cases of arthritis are osteoarthritis. Wear and tear on joints can cause bones to rub against each other, causing pain and wearing away cartilage. Fortunately, there are ways to slow the development of arthritis, and some treatments that can help alleviate symptoms.
At any age, dental and oral health is an essential part of your overall health and wellbeing. Poor oral hygiene, on the other hand, can lead to many unenjoyable issues and problems in your lifetime. Healthy teeth and gums are important for senior health. It is estimated that over 3.5 billion people have an oral disease; a US survey by the CDC found that 13% of adults aged 65-74 had no natural teeth left.
As we age, the mouth becomes dryer and cavities are more difficult to prevent. As a result, proper oral health care, including regular dental check-ups, should be a senior healthcare priority.
Types of Oral Health Concerns
- Cavities, also known as tooth decay, are caused when areas of the tooth have been permanently damaged and may even have holes in them. This health issue is fairly common. They occur when bacteria, food, and acid coat your teeth and form a plaque.
- Gum disease is inflammation of the gums. This problem is usually the result of plaque building up on your teeth (due to poor brushing and flossing habits).
- A tooth cracking or breaking is very serious and should be addressed right away. This can result from an injury to the mouth, chewing hard foods, or grinding of the teeth. A cracked tooth can be very painful.
- Sensitive teeth can be natural, as some people have thinner enamel than others. However, having sensitive teeth can also be the result of gum disease, receding gums, a cracked tooth, or worn down fillings and crowns.
If you feel you or someone you know is suffering from oral health issues, there are many actions to be taken. Changing daily habits, such as brushing more often, using mouthwash, and flossing, is always a start as oral hygiene is a daily commitment. However, more serious concerns may require professional attention from a dentist.
What is poverty? Hunger, lack of shelter, being sick without access to help, no schooling or skills, unemployment…
There are more than 637,000 people living in poverty in Ireland. Furthermore, figures released by Alone.ie found that more than 14,500 of these people are aged 65 or over. It has been found that elderly people who live alone are more likely to end up in poverty, and that women are generally more vulnerable than men.
So how is this related to health concerns in the elderly?
Poverty affects senior health in many ways. This can start with being unable to afford the correct social and medical care, and other essential senior healthcare needs. In serious cases, it can mean you can’t afford to eat, heat your home, or pay your rent. A lack of basic resources can quickly result in serious health concerns. Many people living in poverty are affected by malnutrition. This can result in serious illness, especially in older age.
Sometimes, how much money you or your family has isn’t something that you can control. However, there are many ways of dealing with the situation and finding support. Talk to someone about your feelings and surround yourself with people that respect you (no matter your situation). If you are worried about somebody, support them by firstly not judging or embarrassing them about their situation. There are also many charities and organisations which will provide support, including local food banks and The Salvation Army.
Unfortunately, cancer can affect anyone, regardless of age. However, it can be quite prevalent amongst older people. In fact, studies show that more than half of cancer cases occur in people aged 65 or over. This is because cells are more likely to be damaged as we age, with a lifetime of exposure to sunlight or harmful chemicals.
Cancer tends to strike at random. Two people could live identical lifestyles but only one of them may develop cancer. However, there are certain things that can increase the likelihood of developing different types of cancer. Excessive smoking, alcohol intake, or time spent in the sun can all damage cells and increase the likelihood of cancer developing. Similarly, exposure to chemicals such as asbestos are proven to increase the chances of someone developing cancer in their lifetime.
Fortunately, if it is noticed and treated quickly, cancer can often be beaten without too many side effects. Advancements in cancer treatment are always happening, too, improving the chances of elderly loved ones overcoming these health concerns. However, it is important to be mindful of this condition as we age and arrange to see a doctor if anything doesn’t feel quite right.
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Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 20th July 2023 to reflect current information.