- The Most Common Source Of Support And Companionship For Elderly People Is
- Senior Companion Care Services
- What is Companion Care?
- What are the Benefits of Senior Companionship?
- What Types of Companion Care are There?
- Companion Care Services
- Who Provides Companion Services?
- Choosing Companion Care Services
- Companion Care Costs
- How do I Find Companion Care for the Elderly?
- Is There Companion Care Near Me?
- 10 common elderly health issues
- 10 Essential Health Tips For Seniors
- Healthy Aging
- Staying Active
- Staying Connected to Your Community
- Nutrition for Older Adults
- Locating Benefits & Finding Care
- Understanding Mental Health
- Brain Health
- Diseases, Conditions & Injuries
- Managing Medication & Treatment
- The 15 Most Common Health Concerns for Seniors
- Education Topics
- Common Medical Conditions in Older People
- 1. Arthritis
- 2. Hypertension
- 3. Asthma
- 4. Blindness
- 5. Cancer
- 6. Chronic Bronchitis
- 7. Coronary Heart Disease
- 8. Dementia
- 9. Diabetes
- 10. Epilepsy
- 11. Motor Neurone Disease
- 12. Multiple Sclerosis
- 13. Osteoporosis
- 14. Paget’s Disease of the Bone
- 15. Parkinson’s Disease
- 16. Stroke
- 17. Chronic Kidney Disease
- 18. Deep Vein Thrombosis
- 19. Shingles
- 20. Cholesterol
- Living with Medical Conditions
- Staying Safe at Home
- 11 Common Aging Health Issues
The Most Common Source Of Support And Companionship For Elderly People Is
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Senior Companion Care Services
Companion care is primarily emotional support and companionship for seniors who are generally healthy and who want to remain independent at home. However, it can also include a range of non-medical services that help make a senior’s life more manageable. These services can include light housekeeping, assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), medication reminders and more. Though companion care focuses on those seniors in their homes, it can be provided to those in nursing homes and assisted senior living facilities. Companion care also falls under the titles personal care assistants and homemaker services.
What is Companion Care?
The role of companion care changes based on the senior and their needs. It is a service that can be applied at home, home hospice or in an assisted living situations. In general terms, companion care spans both the social and physical care of a senior or couple. The goal of companion care as a service is to:
- Provide emotional support
- Improve the quality of life of the senior
- Provide companionship for the senior
Companion care can also include physical care such as grocery shopping, house cleaning, and chores that support or that maintain the independence of a senior or couple. Companion care should enable the senior to enjoy life.
Senior companions are people, some of whom are paid and some are volunteers, who provide a needed and consistent presence in a senior’s life. The role of a senior companion is to maintain the link between the senior and the rest of society. They work in such as way as to provide emotional companionship and in some cases, they provide physical care while lifting the burdens that come with getting older, loss of mobility and mental decline. Senior companions need not be medically trained or certified and their role can be as simple as taking a senior grocery shopping or to a doctors appointment. It can also be simply sitting down with a senior on a regular basis and enjoying conversation.
What are the Benefits of Senior Companionship?
The biggest benefit of senior companionship is that it improves the quality of life of seniors. Companionship goes beyond just caregiving and is a symbiotic relationship that enables the senior to thrive. On a social level having friends and companions enables people to talk about challenges, express grief, and to find resources to solve problems. On a personal level, a quality companion is someone that the senior not only looks forward to visiting with, doing things with but also is someone on which they can rely. Older people worry about many of their challenges that for you and I might be very small such as going to the grocery store or transportation to and from doctors appointments. Companionship helps to remove the worry and burden, so that seniors can focus on living a quality life.
The impact of a senior companion for seniors is often a longer and healthier life with improved wellbeing. When we are alone, we suffer and are at higher risk of dementia and forgetfulness. There is a lack of ambition and it can be associated with depression and the loss of the will to live. The worst of all criminals are placed in isolation as a punishment. Companionship for the elderly is so important because it is the fuel that brings meaning back to their lives and with that comes the willingness to do more.
What Types of Companion Care are There?
- Live-in companion care – Live-in companion care is usually provided by a home care service. It involves 24-hour shifts by one or more person. This type of service is ideal for keeping a senior in their home as long as possible and usually involves many types of services from meal preparation and house cleaning to grooming, bathing, and transportation to appointments.
- In-home companion care – This type of service typically involves shorter visits with specific goals such as meal prep, assistance with bathing, or transportation to an appointment or for grocery shopping. There is also well-person checks that occur when friends, family, or other members of the community stop in on a regular basis. Such support can come from a local church, neighbors, or from a paid service.
- Companion hospice care – Hospice provides companion care through a variety of means. A hospice has volunteers who stop by to visit and to help. A hospice volunteer might run errands for the senior or help them to appointments. Hospice also provides Home Health Aids for personal needs and respite visits. Hospice is a dynamic organization and other senior companions include social workers, clergy, and nurses.
- Religious-based companion care, which is often available through many religious groups such as Christian companion care, Catholic companion care, etc. If the senior has been part of a religious community, begin the search within that group. Familiar faces make great companions. If not, most religious groups are happy to help and many non-denominational religious groups are available too.
Companion Care Services
At its core, companion care is just as the name implies—companionship and someone to share experiences and personal stories with. This personal link can be crucial for seniors who live alone and may be isolated from others.
Seniors who engage in conversation and play games (bridge, scrabble, etc.) with a companion are keeping an edge on their mental acuity. Studies show that these kinds of stimulation can help delay the effects of dementia or Alzheimers.
Other services include:
- Medication reminders
- Assistance with daily routines such as getting out of bed and getting in and out of the car.
- Performing light housekeeping duties
- Preparing and cooking meals
- Transportation assistance to the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, and errands.
- Help with planning, scheduling and keeping appointments.
- Encouraging and planning social activities. This can include local sightseeing trips, movies, shopping, visits to family and friends, and anything that keeps the client busy and enjoying life.
- Exercising to keep a healthy body, mind and spirit. This can include walks in the neighborhood, swimming at the local pool, and anything that keeps them active.
- Entertaining with hobbies, games, etc.
- Interacting with family members to keep them abreast of their loved one’s condition.
- Some providers may have dementia care training and experience to help those seniors who are showing signs of the disease.
Who Provides Companion Services?
- Certified Home Care Agencies and Hospice Agencies provide medical and non-medical services. These agencies are strictly regulated by the federal government.
- Non-certified (and non-licensed) agencies provide nonmedical home services.
- Independent contractors are self-employed and are hired directly by the family. These caregivers are usually not licensed.
Choosing Companion Care Services
As you begin to narrow down your choice of companion care providers, consider these questions.
- Does the agency offer additional services like home health if my loved one’s condition dictates?
- Is the agency recommended by a hospital, social worker, doctor or similar professional?
- Does the agency perform background checks on the staff?
- Does the employee have professional recommendations they can provide?
- Does the employee have any special certifications or skills (e.g. dementia care, nutrition, etc.)?
- Does the agency provide free in-home safety evaluations?
- Does the agency provide 24-hour/7 days a week service?
- How does the agency supervise the caregiver?
- How the agency develops the client’s care plan?
- Is family involved with the care process?
- Is the client involved with their care process and plan?
- If the caregiver is unable to work on a given day, who is their replacement? How much notice are you given?
- Will the caregiver be the same person every time?
- What is the average time a caregiver stays with the agency?
- What are the payment options? Is there a payment plan?
- Are there additional fees, deposits, etc. not included in the quoted cost?
- Do holidays and weekends cost extra?
Companion Care Costs
Costs will vary according to the level of care provided and the training of the caregiver. Other factors may include the local market and reputation of the provider. According to a Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey, the national average for licensed companion care services is $18 an hour and most services require a 4 hour minimum. The study defines this care as “Homemaker Services, which is a service makes it possible for people to live in their own homes or to return to their homes by helping complete household tasks that they can’t manage alone. Homemaker services aides may clean houses, cook meals or run errands.”
Medicare does not pay for companion care. Most recipients of companion care or their families pay using their own money. Some long-term care (LTC) insurance may cover companion care services. In addition, some states offer a home allowance based on the financial needs of their residents. Your Area Agency on Aging is a good starting point to find out what’s out there where you live.
How do I Find Companion Care for the Elderly?
There are a number of sources for senior companions and some of those are free. Start by defining the needs of the senior and then matching the skill sets of companions with those the senior’s needs.
Home Care Companies – Licensed and unlicensed home care companies provide companion care. You want to thoroughly vet any potential companion and the company that employs them. Home care services are charged either by the visit or by the hour. Sometimes companion care is free. You can begin to find compatible companion care through your:
- Local church
- Through community services such as the Senior Corps, which provides volunteers that help seniors with tasks such as grocery shopping or transportation to a doctors appointment.
- Social workers who may have information about programs that are locally-based
- State Department of social or health services. Many states have senior programs and may provide information that helps you find the perfect senior companion.
Many assisted living centers also provide companion care as part of their service offerings.
Is There Companion Care Near Me?
Most likely there is! Senior companions are easy to find in most large communities. In smaller communities, the role of a senior companion may include several people, such as neighbors, friends, friends from church, and paid services from a care provider services. There are also national organizations that provide senior companions through volunteers.
Learn more about finding a senior companion near you through the Corporation for National & Community Service. You can also use our directory to search for companion care near you, read reviews and get companion care pricing information.
Companion care can enable seniors to remain more independent and keep them from going to that next more costly step: assisted living or a nursing home facility.
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10 common elderly health issues
Getting older can seem daunting—greying hair, wrinkles, forgetting where you parked the car. All jokes aside, aging can bring about unique health issues. With seniors accounting for 12 percent of the world’s population–and rapidly increasing to over 22 percent by 2050–it’s important to understand the challenges faced by people as they age, and recognize that there are preventive measures that can place yourself (or a loved one) on a path to healthy aging.
1. Chronic health conditions
According to the National Council on Aging, about 92 percent of seniors have at least one chronic disease and 77 percent have at least two. Heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes are among the most common and costly chronic health conditions causing two-thirds of deaths each year. The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends meeting with a physician for an annual checkup, maintaining a healthy diet and keeping an exercise routine to help manage or prevent chronic diseases. Obesity is a growing problem among older adults and engaging in these lifestyle behaviors can help reduce obesity and associated chronic conditions.
2. Cognitive health
Cognitive health is focused on a person’s ability to think, learn and remember. The most common cognitive health issue facing the elderly is dementia, the loss of those cognitive functions. Approximately 47.5 million people worldwide have dementia—a number that is predicted to nearly triple in size by 2050. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease with as many as five million people over the age of 65 suffering from the disease in the United States. According to the National Institute on Aging, other chronic health conditions and diseases increase the risk of developing dementia, such as substance abuse, diabetes, hypertension, depression, HIV and smoking. While there are no cures for dementia, physicians can prescribe a treatment plan and medications to manage the disease.
3. Mental health
According to the World Health Organization, over 15 percent of adults over the age of 60 suffer from a mental disorder. A common mental disorder among seniors is depression, occurring in seven percent of the elderly population. Unfortunately, this mental disorder is often underdiagnosed and undertreated. Older adults account for over 18 percent of suicides deaths in the United States. Because depression can be a side effect of chronic health conditions, managing those conditions help. Additionally, promoting a lifestyle of healthy living such as betterment of living conditions and social support from family, friends or support groups can help treat depression.
4. Physical injury
Every 15 seconds, an older adult is admitted to the emergency room for a fall. A senior dies from falling every 29 minutes, making it the leading cause of injury among the elderly. Because aging causes bones to shrink and muscle to lose strength and flexibility, seniors are more susceptible to losing their balance, bruising and fracturing a bone. Two diseases that contribute to frailty are osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. However, falls are not inevitable. In many cases, they can be prevented through education, increased physical activity and practical modifications within the home.
5. HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases
In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 21 percent of AIDS cases occurred in seniors over the age of 50 in the United States, and 37 percent of deaths that same year were people over the age of 55. While sexual needs and ability may change as people age, sexual desire doesn’t disappear completely. Seniors are unlikely to use condoms, which, when combined with a weakened immune system, makes the elderly more susceptible to contracting HIV. Late diagnosis of HIV is common among older adults because symptoms of HIV are very similar to those of normal aging, making it more difficult to treat and prevent damage to the immune system.
Malnutrition in older adults over the age of 65 is often underdiagnosed and can lead to other elderly health issues, such as a weakened immune system and muscle weakness. The causes of malnutrition can stem from other health problems (seniors suffering from dementia may forget to eat), depression, alcoholism, dietary restrictions, reduced social contact and limited income. Committing to small changes in diet, such as increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables and decreasing consumption of saturated fat and salt, can help nutrition issues in the elderly. There are food services available to older adults who cannot afford food or have difficulty preparing meals.
7. Sensory impairments
Sensory impairments, such as vision and hearing, are extremely common for older Americans over the age of 70. According to the CDC, one out of six older adults has a visual impairment and one out of four has a hearing impairment. Luckily, both of these issues are easily treatable by aids such as glasses or hearing aids. New technologies are enhancing assessment of hearing loss and wearability of hearing aids.
8. Oral health
Often overlooked, oral health is one of the most important issues for the elderly. The CDC’s Division of Oral Health found that about 25 percent of adults over the age of 65 no longer have their natural teeth. Problems such as cavities and tooth decay can lead to difficulty maintaining a healthy diet, low self-esteem, and other health conditions. Oral health issues associated with older adults are dry mouth, gum disease and mouth cancer. These conditions could be managed or prevented by making regular dental check-ups. Dental care, however, can be difficult for seniors to access due to loss of dental insurance after retirement or economical disadvantages.
9. Substance abuse
Substance abuse, typically alcohol or drug-related, is more prevalent among seniors than realized. According to the National Council on Aging, the number of older adults with substance abuse problems is expected to double to five million by 2020. Because many don’t associate substance abuse with the elderly, it’s often overlooked and missed in medical check-ups. Additionally, older adults are often prescribed multiple prescriptions to be used long-term. The National Institute on Drugs finds that substance abuse typically results from someone suffering mental deficits or taking another patient’s medication due to their inability to pay for their own.
10. Bladder control and constipation
Incontinence and constipation are both common with aging, and can impact older adults quality of life. In addition to age-related changes, these may be a side effect of previous issues mentioned above, such as not eating a well-balanced diet and suffering from chronic health conditions. The Mayo Clinic suggests maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly to avoid these elderly health issues. There are often effective medical treatments, and older adults should not be embarrassed to discuss with their physicians.
Visit the Program for Healthy Aging to learn more about preventative measures for common elderly health issues.
— Suzannah Smith
10 Essential Health Tips For Seniors
In the last census baby boomers, those 65+, accounted for 13% of the population. This age group grew at a faster rate than the population under age 45, and it’s clear that the US is an aging population. Happily, aging is different now than it was for our parents and grandparents. Today, there are more people living longer than at any other time in history. In fact, boomers will number 78 million by 2030. “This generation, associated with social change including the civil rights and anti-war movements in the 1960s, has another important cause ”staying healthy,” says soon-to-be 65-year-old Arthur Hayward, MD, a geriatrician and clinical lead physician for Kaiser Permanente. “We need to become activists in promoting healthful behaviors and try our best to remain active and healthy the rest of our lives.”
How to do it? Dr. Hayward recommends these 10 easy health tips for seniors to help baby boomers live longer and thrive:
- Quit smoking. Take this critical step to improve your health and combat aging. Smoking kills by causing cancer, strokes and heart failure. Smoking leads to erectile dysfunction in men due to atherosclerosis and to excessive wrinkling by attacking skin elasticity. Many resources are available to help you quit.
- Keep active. Do something to keep fit each dayâ€”something you enjoy that maintains strength, balance and flexibility and promotes cardiovascular health. Physical activity helps you stay at a healthy weight, prevent or control illness, sleep better, reduce stress, avoid falls and look and feel better, too.
- Eat well. Combined with physical activity, eating nutritious foods in the right amounts can help keep you healthy. Many illnesses, such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis, can be prevented or controlled with dietary changes and exercise. Calcium and vitamin D supplements can help women prevent osteoporosis.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Use the Kaiser Permanente BMI (body mass index) calculator to find out what you should weigh for your height. Get to your healthy weight and stay there by eating right and keeping active. Replace sugary drinks with waterâ€”water is calorie free!
- Prevent falls. We become vulnerable to falls as we age. Prevent falls and injury by removing loose carpet or throw rugs. Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter, and use night-lights in hallways and bathrooms. Did you know that people who walk barefoot fall more frequently? Wear shoes with good support to reduce the risk of falling.
- Stay up-to-date on immunizations and other health screenings. By age 50, women should begin mammography screening for breast cancer. Men can be checked for prostate cancer. Many preventive screenings are available. Those who are new to Medicare are entitled to a “Welcome to Medicare” visit and all Medicare members to an annual wellness visit. Use these visits to discuss which preventative screenings and vaccinations are due.
- Prevent skin cancer. As we age, our skin grows thinner; it becomes drier and less elastic. Wrinkles appear, and cuts and bruises take longer to heal. Be sure to protect your skin from the sun. Too much sun and ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer.
- Get regular dental, vision and hearing checkups. Your teeth and gums will last a lifetime if you care for them properly that means daily brushing and flossing and getting regular dental checkups. By age 50, most people notice changes to their vision, including a gradual decline in the ability to see small print or focus on close objects. Common eye problems that can impair vision include cataracts and glaucoma. Hearing loss occurs commonly with aging, often due to exposure to loud noise.
- Manage stress. Try exercise or relaxation techniquesâ€”perhaps meditation or yoga as a means of coping. Make time for friends and social contacts and fun. Successful coping can affect our health and how we feel. Learn the role of positive thinking.
- Fan the flame. When it comes to sexual intimacy and aging, age is no reason to limit your sexual enjoyment. Learn about physical changes that come with aging and get suggestions to help you adjust to them, if necessary.
Adopting healthy habits and behaviors, staying involved in your community, using preventive services, managing health conditions, and understanding all your medications can contribute to a productive and meaningful life.
There are a number of resources that can help you:
– Staying Active
– Staying Connected to Your Community
– Nutrition for Older Adults
– Locating Benefits and Finding Care
– Understanding Mental Health
– Brain Health
– Learn about Diseases, Conditions & Injuries
– Managing Medication and Treatment
Go4Life: Exercise and Physical Activity
Staying physically active is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Get help fitting exercise and physical activity into your daily life.
Getting older does not necessarily mean a person’s driving days are over. Plan ahead to ensure you and your loved ones are safe on the road.
Aging at Home: A Guide for Home Improvements
Tips for modifying your home to be more accessible helps prevent falls and injuries, and provides peace of mind for you and those around you.
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Staying Connected to Your Community
Senior Corp connects adults 55+ with the people and organizations that need you most. Find volunteer opportunities near you.
Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)
SCSEP is a community service and work-based job training program for low-income, unemployed older Americans. See if you qualify.
Aging Network Volunteer Resource Center
Offers online resources, staff and volunteer training, and opportunities for leaders to exchange best practices to increase the number of older adult volunteers and enrich the experience of these volunteers.
National Aging and Disability Transportation Center
Working to increase transportation options for older adults to support their ability to live independently in their homes and communities.
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Nutrition for Older Adults
Food and Nutrition
Nutrition is important at every stage of life. Find information and resources in your area to achieve good health.
Young at Heart: Tips for Older Adults
As you age, your body and life change. So does what you need to stay healthy. Healthy eating and regular physical activity are your keys to good health.
Meals on Wheels America
Meals on Wheels, along with more than two million volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America’s seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity.
Nutrition for Seniors
Studies show that a good diet in your later years reduces your risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart diseases, and certain cancers. Get tips for eating for overall health.
What’s On Your Plate? Smart Food Choices for Healthy Aging
Stay healthy with nutrient-focused guides for healthy eating and grocery shopping.
If you are overweight or obese, you have a greater risk of developing many diseases including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. Learn how to manage your weight successfully.
Food Safety for Older Adults
Adults 65 and older are at a higher risk for hospitalization and death from foodborne illness. Learn how to keep yourself safe.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP offers nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities.
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Locating Benefits & Finding Care
Benefits.gov: Your Path to Government Benefits
Locate benefits you may be eligible for using the official benefits website of the U.S. government.
Sign up for Medicare benefits, find out if a service is covered, submit a Medicare claim, and more.
Medicare covers many preventive and screening services to keep you healthy and help find problems early, when treatment is most effective.
Compare Medicare Providers
Find physicians, group practices, hospitals, home health agencies, and dialysis facilities based on star ratings, services offered, and quality of care.
Medicare and the Health Insurance Marketplace
Learn about the Health Insurance Marketplace and your Medicare benefits.
Replacement Medicare Cards
Learn how to get a replacement Medicare card.
Your one-stop-shop for Federal policy and program information about Medicaid.
Using your ZIP code or city and state, find resources in your community that provide information and assistance for older adults and caregivers.
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Understanding Mental Health
Older Adults and Mental Health
It is not uncommon to experience mental health issues as people age. You don’t need to live with it, however. Learn more about depression in older adults.
Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
Find a treatment facility for mental health issues near you.
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What is Brain Health?
Your brain changes as you age. It’s natural. But the central mission of your brain never changes. Its job is to help you make sense of the world and oversee your daily operations and life.
Brain Health: You Can Make a Difference
It is important to keep your brain healthy as you age. Get information and guidance to help you make smart choices about your brain health.
Coping with Memory Loss
Everyone has mild memory lapses from time to time. Learn when it is time to discuss your memory lapses with your doctor.
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Diseases, Conditions & Injuries
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Find links to authoritative, up-to-date information from agencies and organizations with expertise in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Caregiving Tip Sheets and Resources
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease can have high physical, emotional, and financial costs. These tips can help caregivers become informed and find support.
Arthritis is one of the most common diseases in the United States. Older people most often have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout.
NIH Senior Health: Cancer
Some cancers are more likely to occur with age. Read about breast cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, and more.
Cancer Facts for People Over 50
Cancer strikes people of all ages, but you are more likely to get cancer as you get older. Learn what cancer is, what to look for, and how it is treated.
Diabetes in Older People—A Disease You Can Manage
Diabetes is a serious disease that can lead to dangerous health problems, such as heart attack or stroke. There are things you can do, however, to take control and prevent problems.
Preventing Falls Among Older Adults
Each year, one in every 3 adults age 65 or older falls and 2 million are treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries. However, many falls can be prevented.
Hearing loss can have many different causes. Learn about common causes of hearing loss and when to see your doctor.
Heart & Lung Health
In the United States, the most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attack. Learn the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and how you can prevent it.
Aging with HIV/AIDS
New medications and treatments have increased the life expectancy of people with HIV. Learn how aging affects living with HIV.
HIV: Know the Risks. Get the Facts.
HIV risk doesn’t stop at 50. In fact, men and women over age 50 account for 17% of all new HIV and AIDS diagnosis. Learn how to prevent HIV.
HIV, AIDS, and Older People
You may have thought HIV was something only younger people have to worry about, but anyone at any age can get it. Learn more about HIV/AIDS.
Aging and Your Eyes
Protect your vision and eye health as you age. Learn about glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, presbyopia, detached retina, and other problems.
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Managing Medication & Treatment
Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage
Medicare offers prescription drug coverage to help senior citizens get the prescription drugs they need. Learn more about Medicare’s prescription drug coverage options.
Ways to Save on Drug Costs
If you meet certain income and resource limits, you may qualify for extra help from Medicare to pay the costs of Medicare prescription drug coverage.
Generic Drugs: Questions and Answers
Learn about generic drugs–from their safety to their effectiveness.
Pillbox: Identify or Search for a Pill
Use Pillbox’s image explorer to sort a variety of pills by color, shape, size, scoring, or the text printed on the pill.
Dietary Supplement Label Database
Check the full label contents of dietary supplement products sold in the United States.
Senior Vaccine Schedule
People 65 and older may need one or more vaccines, even if you received vaccines as a child or young adult. Learn more and then talk to your doctor about which vaccines are right for you.
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The 15 Most Common Health Concerns for Seniors
2. Heart Disease
According to the CDC, heart disease remains the leading killer of adults over age 65, accounting for 489,722 deaths in 2014. As a chronic condition, heart disease affects 37 percent of men and 26 percent of women 65 and older, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. As people age, they’re increasingly living with risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, that increase the chances of having a stroke or developing heart disease. Dr. Bernard’s advice for addressing this senior health risk not only helps with heart disease but can improve senior health across the board: “Exercise, eat well, get a good night’s rest. Eating well means eating in a fashion that will allow you to keep a healthy weight with a well-balanced and healthy diet.”
Cancer is the second leading cause of death among people over age 65, with 413,885 deaths in 2014, according to the CDC. The CDC also reports that 28 percent of men and 21 percent of women over age 65 are living with cancer. If caught early through screenings, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and skin checks, many types of cancer are treatable. And though you’re not always able to prevent cancer, you can improve your quality of life as a senior living with cancer, including during treatment, by working with your medical team and maintaining their healthy senior living recommendations.
4. Respiratory Diseases
Chronic lower respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are the third most common cause of death among people 65 and older, with 124,693 deaths in 2014, according to the CDC. Among people 65 and older, about 10 percent of men and 13 percent of women are living with asthma, and 10 percent of men and 11 percent of women are living with chronic bronchitis or emphysema, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. Although having a chronic respiratory disease increases senior health risks, making you more vulnerable to pneumonia and other infections, getting lung function tests and taking the correct medication, or using oxygen as instructed, will go a long way toward preserving senior health and your quality of life.
5. Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease accounted for 92,604 deaths of people over age 65 in 2014, according to the CDC. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that one in nine people age 65 and older, which is about 11 percent, have Alzheimer’s disease, but because diagnosis is challenging, it’s difficult to know exactly how many people are living with this chronic condition. Still, experts acknowledge that cognitive impairment has a significant impact on senior health across the spectrum, from issues of safety and self-care to the cost burden of care, either in the home or a residential facility.
“Osteoporosis can contribute to becoming less mobile and potentially disabled should you fall and have a fracture or as the vertebral bodies collapse,” Bernard said. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that 54 million Americans over age 50 are affected by low bone mass or osteoporosis, putting them at risk for a fracture or break that could lead to poor senior health and reduced quality of life. What’s more, they estimate that by the year 2020 that number will rise to 64.4 million.
The CDC estimates that 25 percent of people ages 65 and older are living with diabetes, a significant senior health risk. According to CDC data, diabetes caused 54,161 deaths among adults over age 65 in 2014. Diabetes can be identified and addressed early with simple blood tests for blood sugar levels. The sooner you know that you have or are at risk for diabetes, the sooner you can start making changes to control the disease and improve your long-term senior health outlook.
8. Influenza and Pneumonia
Although the flu and pneumonia aren’t chronic conditions, these infections are among the top eight causes of death in people over age 65, according to the CDC. Seniors are more vulnerable to these diseases and less able to fight them off. Senior healthcare recommendations include getting an annual flu shot, and getting the pneumonia vaccine if recommended by your doctor, to prevent these infections and their life-threatening complications.
The risk for falls requiring emergency room care increases with age. Each year, 2.5 million people ages 65 and older are treated in emergency departments because of falls, according to the CDC. That’s more than any other age group. And, one-third of people who go to the emergency room for a fall may find themselves there again within one year, according to a study published in August 2015 in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine. Also be aware that most falls occur in the home, where tripping hazards include area rugs and slippery bathroom floors, according to a study published in January 2013 in the Journal of Injury and Violence Research.
10. Substance Abuse
An analysis of data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions suggests that one in five people over 65 have had a substance or alcohol abuse problem at some point in their lives. Alcohol and tobacco topped the list of nonmedical substances abused by survey participants. Substance and alcohol abuse are a concern for senior health because of possible interactions with prescription medication, their impact on overall health, and the increased senior health risks, such as falls, associated with intoxication.
Obesity is an important senior health risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer — all chronic conditions that impact quality of life. As the numbers on the scale increase, so does the risk for disease. Of the adults between 65 and 74, 36.2 percent of men and 40.7 percent of women are obese — meaning that their body mass index is greater than or equal to 30 — according to the CDC. It can also be a signal that an older adult isn’t as active or mobile as he or she once was.
According to the American Psychological Association, 15 to 20 percent of Americans over 65 have experienced depression. A threat to senior health, depression can lower immunity and can compromise a person’s ability to fight infections. In addition to treatment with medication and therapy, other ways to improve senior living might be to increase physical activity — 59.4 percent of adults 65 and older don’t meet CDC recommendations for exercise— or to interact socially more — seniors report spending just 8 to 11 percent of their free time with family and friends, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics.
13. Oral Health
Healthy teeth and gums are important not just for a pretty smile and easy eating, but also for overall senior health. According to the CDC, 25 percent of adults over 65 have no natural teeth. As you age, your mouth tends to become dryer and cavities are more difficult to prevent, so proper oral health care, including regular dental checkups, should be a senior healthcare priority, Dr. Wei said.
RELATED: 6 Ways Your Body Gets Better With Age
In 2013, 45 percent of adults ages 65 and older had incomes below the poverty level, according to a 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation report. This number takes into account available financial resources, liabilities such as taxes, value benefits like food stamps, out-of-pocket medical expenses, geographic variations in housing expenses, and other factors. Older women are slightly more likely than men to be living in poverty, and that gap widens in those over 80. Single older adults are also significantly more likely to live alone with fewer resources. Poverty affects senior health if you’re unable to afford doctor visits, medication for chronic conditions, and other essential senior healthcare needs.
Remember that bout of chicken pox you had as a kid? It can come back as shingles when you’re an adult. According to the National Institutes of Health, one out of three people over 60 will get shingles, and 50 percent of all Americans will experience it before they’re 80. It usually affects only one side of your body, starting out with severe pain or tingling and then developing into an itchy rash and possibly blisters. There is a vaccine available, so talk to your doctor about it.
Additional reporting by Carey Rossi
In the analysis of nationally representative datasets, we demonstrated that the disability rate and mortality rate declined significantly over time in old adults aged between 65 and 84 in Japan. We also observed a decrease in treatment rates of many chronic medical conditions over approximately the same time period. This finding suggests a decline in the prevalence of these conditions, which is in concordance with the decline in disability rate. The concurrent decrease in mortality implies that the decrease in treatment rates is not attributable to attrition of sicker persons or survival bias. Hence, combined together, our findings indicate overall improvement in health conditions among adults entering “old age”; that is, people reaching the age of 65 years have recently enjoyed better health compared to preceding cohorts.
Among conditions whose treatment rates declined, three medical conditions, namely cerebrovascular diseases, ischemic heart disease and osteoporosis, showed a particularly substantial decline. The treatment rates of these medical conditions in each age group in 2011 were roughly equivalent to or even lower than the treatment rates of the group 5 years younger in 1996, and were consistent in each sex. Public health organizations have made efforts to increase people’s awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle and avoiding major risk factors for these medical conditions, such as smoking, hypertension and diabetes. These efforts have gradually altered people’s behavior. The smoking rate was 44.7% for men over 60 and 7.8% for women over 60 in 1996, but in 2011 it fell to 23.9% and 6.4%, respectively . People, particularly those older than 60, exercise more than previously . The Specific Health Checkup, which focuses on screening for metabolic syndrome and lifestyle-related diseases, was introduced in 2008 against a backdrop of increased awareness of such medical conditions, and led to early screening, diagnosis and treatment . In addition, advances in medical technology, medication and care and an improving standard of living have helped facilitate prevention and management of these conditions. It should be noted that cerebrovascular diseases and ischemic heart disease are important causes of both mortality and disability.
Interestingly, the change in the overall treatment rate for fracture in women was not statistically significant, whereas the treatment rate for osteoporosis declined significantly. The observed disparity between the treatment rates of fractures and osteoporosis may be due to limited predictive ability of bone mineral density measurements, which have been widely used to diagnose osteoporosis. It is true that fracture is more likely to occur when bone mineral density is lower, but multiple factors play a role in determining fracture risk, and bone mineral density alone accounts for only 1.7 to 7.4 percent of fracture risk . Another possible explanation for the disparity may be under-diagnosis of osteoporosis. In primary care settings, osteoporosis is often undiagnosed and untreated. However, health checkups for old adults in Japan include screening for osteoporosis, and it is unlikely that the diagnostic rate of osteoporosis has significantly changed recently. The time gap between osteoporosis and fractures may also help explain the disparity. People tend to suffer fracture at an older age than the age when they receive a diagnosis of osteoporosis. Therefore, even though the treatment rate for osteoporosis has declined, the effects on the treatment rate of fracture may be delayed and take some more years to be observable.
The treatment rates for diabetes mellitus and hypertension declined significantly for all age strata in women, but the improvement in men was mostly restricted to those younger than 75 years. The reason for this apparent disparity between men and women is not clear, but it may reflect sex differences in age-related changes or a cohort effect. Those older than 75 years experienced the Second World War in their childhood when chronic malnutrition was widespread and started their occupational career in the period of rapid growth in 1960s when men were expected to earn their livings and women to stay home and raise a family.
An improvement in the treatment rate of pneumonia was not observed in each sex. Despite the largely unchanged treatment rate of pneumonia, pneumonia-specific mortality rate declined over time. This suggests stable occurrence of pneumonia, but possibly of a less severe form, and improved management of pneumonia. Because effective preventive measures for pneumonia, such as pneumococcal or influenza vaccination, are already widely available for old adults, further improvement in the prevention of pneumonia may be hard to achieve.
Only a few studies have provided descriptive epidemiological data on disability and chronic diseases among older adults in Japan. The Analysis of National Survey of Japanese Elderly, a nationally representative six-wave panel study, reported that six out of ten measures of Activity of Daily Living (ADL) and instrumental ADL improved significantly after adjustment for age from 1993 to 2002 . A study of the Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions reported that the number of expected years of life without activity limitation increased from 1995 to 2004 . These studies reported data more than 10 years ago, but the results are consistent with our findings, implying that the improvement in health conditions started earlier than our data coverage.
Our study has some limitations that need to be acknowledged. First, the Patient Survey collected information on diseases and injuries from physicians, but the diagnostic criteria were not standardized and their severity was not included in the questionnaire. All medical conditions may not be captured by the questionnaire in the case of patients with multiple comorbidity, which is particularly concerning for older adults because older adults tend to have an increased number of comorbid conditions . Second, the Patient Survey is conducted every three years in October, and therefore seasonal variation in the treatment rate is not accounted for. However, because each survey was conducted in a standardized manner at the same time of the year, the survey at least can provide valid estimates of the trends in the treatment rates over years. Third, some medical conditions may be underdiagnosed and not well captured by the survey. We did not include Alzheimer’s disease in our analysis because it appears to be consistently underdiagnosed, and the change in the treatment rate of Alzheimer’s disease does not seem to reflect the true change in prevalence. Last, the Patient Survey data in 2011 did not include data from medical institutions in Fukushima prefecture and the Ishinomaki and Kesennnuma medical areas of Miyagi prefecture. However, the populations in these areas comprised less than 3% of the population of Japan, and exclusion of data from these areas was unlikely to bias our findings and alter our conclusion.
Despite these limitations, our study has a number of strengths. The databases we utilized are nationally representative, containing large numbers of participants. The Vital Statistics in Japan is highly reliable, and the ascertainment of causes of death was based on death certificates issued by physicians. The data were collected in a standardized manner over a couple of decades, providing a unique opportunity to obtain descriptive epidemiological data of disability, comorbid medical conditions and mortality.
Our findings have several implications. First, even though our findings indicate overall improvement in health conditions in the population aged between 65 and 84, the absolute number of older adults with chronic medical conditions or disability will continue to increase as a result of increase in older adults . This will be a great challenge for the National Health Insurance system and the Long-Term Care Insurance system in Japan. Second, considering the downward trajectory of the treatment rates observed in many medical conditions, it is important to keep raising the general public’s awareness of taking preventive measures to help stave off these conditions. This is a particular priority when we consider the ramifications of the increasing number of older adults with disability. Third, the baby boomers, who were born after the Second World War, are now entering old age. It is important to carefully monitor their health conditions to see if the improvement in health conditions observed in this study will continue. Lastly, our findings do not explain the widening gap between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy. Further research focusing on very old adults is warranted.
We conclude that the prevalence of many chronic medical conditions has declined among old adults over time in Japan. Coupled with the decline in disability rate and mortality rate, our findings may signify overall improvement in health conditions among old adults. This is consistent with improving healthy life expectancy and supports the hypothesis that biological age may be getting lower compared with chronological age. Nonetheless, the increase in number of older adults will offset the improvement in health conditions, and older adults with chronic medical conditions or disability will continue to increase. Therefore, continuous public health efforts to prevent chronic medical conditions and a roadmap for a health care system to meet the increasing health care needs of older adults are still warranted.
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Long-term medical conditions affect an estimated four million older people in the UK. This is set to rise because of our ageing population. It is predicted that by 2030, around seven million older people will have some form of long-term medical condition.
The ageing population and the increased prevalence of long-term medical conditions have had a huge impact on the NHS. Falls are the largest cause of emergency admissions for older people and significantly impact long-term outcomes, especially for those who suffer from a medical problem.
Common Medical Conditions in Older People
Advances in health care have helped people in the UK live for longer than ever before and, as a result, medical conditions have become a more pronounced part of older life. It is becoming less of a challenge to live with these medical conditions and older people are now in the best position ever to manage them on a day-to-day basis.
It’s important that we all have some knowledge about the most common medical conditions so that we are more prepared to deal with them if diagnosed. This includes understanding the condition itself, the treatments available, ways in-which to prevent the illness and how to live with it.
Here’s our guide to the most widespread medical conditions that tend to affect older people.
Arthritis is the breakdown of tissue inside the joints. It can cause pain, inflammation, restricted movement of the area and an apparent weakness within the joints affected. Arthritis is very common in the UK, affecting more than 10 million people of all ages.
There are two main types of Arthritis: Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. When it comes to older people, the most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is caused by wear and tear; the older we are the more we have used our joints through our lifetimes. Around eight million people in the UK are affected by this type of arthritis.
Symptoms of arthritis include:
- Joint pain, tenderness and stiffness.
- Restricted movement of joints.
- Inflammation in and around the joints.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for the illness but there are treatments available such as painkillers and corticosteroids, which can help slow down the condition.
Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. In the UK, around 10 million people have arthritis. It affects people of all ages, including children.” – NHS Choices
The risk of a fall increases if you have arthritis, as your joints are unable to support you as much. Our Personal Alarm system can help ensure that help is found should your suffer from a fall in your home or garden. You simply need to push the red button on your pendant, worn around the wrist or neck, and our 24/7 Response Team will respond.
A member of the team will assess your situation before taking the appropriate actions. This will commonly include contacting your loved ones as well as the emergency services, and informing them that you require urgent assistance.
Read more about arthritis
Hypertension is a long-term health condition whereby the blood pressure in the arteries is constantly elevated. Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood within blood vessels and is measured in ‘millimetres of mercury’ (mmHg) using two numbers; for example, 120/80mmHg.
According to the NHS, more than one in four adults in the UK have high blood pressure but many won’t even realise it. The only way to find out is by having your blood pressure checked.
Noticeable symptoms of hypertension are rare as the only time someone will notice symptoms of hypertension will be when their blood pressure reaches dangerously high levels. This is known as hypertensive crisis and the symptoms for this include severe headaches and anxiety, chest pain and an irregular heartbeat.
Hypertension puts lots of strain on blood vessels, the heart and other vital organs such as the kidneys. Having high blood pressure increases the risk of the following serious, and potentially life-threatening medical conditions:
- Heart Disease.
- Heart Attacks.
- Kidney Disease.
- Vascular dementia.
- Heart Failure.
Ways of treating and managing hypertension include:
- Watching your diet – Avoid foods high in saturated fat and sugar. Replace them with fruits and vegetables.
- Leading an active lifestyle – Begin adding more exercise to your day. Start by walking regularly and then move onto jogging if you can.
- Stop smoking – Nicotine raises people’s blood pressure and heart rate. If you smoke, one of the best things you can do for your overall health is to quit.
The NHS recommends that all adults over the age of 40 get their blood pressure checked at least every five years.
With a Personal Alarm, if you feel chest pains or feel unwell you can raise an alert by pressing your red button and informing our Response Team that you’re concerned and they will contact your loved ones, or the ambulance service, and ask them to visit your home.
Read more about hypertension
Asthma occurs when the body’s airways are sensitive to allergens and become inflamed. This inflammation can cause a painful and frightening attack, which causes the airway muscles to tighten and narrow – making it hard to breathe.
Symptoms of asthma include:
- A tight sensation in the chest.
- Being out of breath regularly.
Older people are susceptible to asthma and it can worsen when people have a cold or the flu. Asthma can be disruptive to a person’s life and managing it is extremely important as it can be a life-threatening condition.
Having a Personal Alarm could be a difference maker if you suffer from an asthma attack. You can press your pendant button, which will then make an alarm call through to our Response Team. They will communicate with your over the loudspeaker and arrange for help immediately. Should you collapse or fall wearing a Fall Detector, your device will send an alert call automatically.
Read more about asthma
Around two million people are living with sight loss here in the UK, with 360,000 people registered as blind or partially slighted.
The leading cause of blindness is age-related macular degeneration (AMB), which affects more than 600,000 people in the UK. AMD is caused by a build-up of deposits on the macula (the small area at the centre of the retina) and can also be caused by abnormal blood vessels developing under it.
Other common causes of blindness in the elderly are glaucoma, caused by pressure on the optic nerve, and diabetes – Diabetic Retinopathy causes damage to the retina. Possible treatment options for blindness will depend on the cause, but may include:
- Cataract surgery.
- Eye drops.
- Laser surgery.
Early diagnosis of potential blindness is vital so please seek medical attention if your vision is becoming an issue. Of course we should all get regular eye checks to ensure that our eyesight is healthy. Specsavers suggest that people have an eye test every two years at the very least.
Losing your sight can be very difficult to cope with, however there are support groups out there that can help – such as the RNIB.
Read more about blindness
A third of the population will suffer from a form of cancer at some point in their lives. There are over 200 strains of this medical condition, such as breast cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer.
Cancer is a disease where cells in the body replicate abnormally and cause a mass known as a tumour. These abnormal cells multiply, causing either the tumour to grow or the cancerous cells to spread through the bloodstream.
Symptoms that we should all look out for include:
- Finding an unexpected lump.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Unexplained blood in the stool, urine, when coughing or when vomiting.
The survival rate is much lower for older people, which is why it is important for symptoms to be caught earlier and treatment to begin as soon as possible. Please take a look at our guide to coping with cancer, an article we hope will help those affected by this condition.
Read more about cancer
6. Chronic Bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis is a respiratory condition, more commonly known as a type of lung disease. Most cases develop due to an infection irritating and inflaming the bronchi of the lungs, causing an overproduction of mucus. The body tries to shift this excess mucus via coughing. This condition causes this coughing to happen daily for prolonged periods of time.
The condition is caused by either a virus or bacteria, similar to the same viruses that cause colds and flu which can make it difficult to differentiate when diagnosing. Look out for symptoms of chronic bronchitis which include:
- A sore throat.
- A runny or blocked nose.
- Aches and pains in your chest.
The most important thing to do if diagnosed with chronic bronchitis is to quit smoking if you smoke. Cigarettes will only make the condition worse and it will take longer to disappear. Alongside this, you should also ensure that you’re eating a healthy diet to help prevent lung infections in the first place.
If you have chronic bronchitis you should make sure that you get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and ensure that you treat any headaches or fever with paracetamol or ibuprofen – don’t use the latter if you have asthma.
Read more about chronic bronchitis
7. Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary heart disease is one of the leading causes of death here in the UK. According to the NHS, coronary heart disease (CHD) is the term that describes what happens when your heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.
CHD can be caused by certain lifestyle choices and other medical conditions, such as:
- High cholesterol.
- High blood pressure.
Those considered to be at risk from CHD will be put through a risk assessment by their GP. Tests such as a treadmill test, radionuclide scan and a CT scan are just a few of the options available to doctors. The main symptoms of CHD are angina, heart attacks and heart failure.
In order to reduce the risk of CHD, people are advised to make severe lifestyle changes. For example, people should take part in regular exercise, eat a balanced diet and stop smoking if they smoke. There are also several types of medication or surgery options to help treat CHD.
The knock-on affects of CHD can appear out of nowhere, and can be fatal. If you have a Personal Alarm you can raise the alarm as soon as you feel any pain or fall, and help will be on its way within a few short seconds. Remember, a Fall Detector Pendant will automatically detect a sudden fall and will raise an alarm for you. Having this technology can make a huge difference should you suffer from a heart attack.
Read more about coronary heart disease
Dementia is a progressive disorder that affects the brain’s memory capacity and it’s overall functionality. Rather than being a condition in and of itself, dementia is a word that refers to a set of symptoms relating to someone’s memory, language and understanding.
The most common cause of dementia, and most well-known, is Alzheimer’s disease. Vascular dementia is another type of dementia that develops following a stroke or if there is blood vessel damage in the brain.
Symptoms of dementia include:
- Difficulty remembering recent events.
- Problems in conversation – struggling to follow along or to find the right words.
- Difficulty judging distance.
- Forgetting where you are or what date it is.
Nearly one million people in the UK live with dementia, 90% of whom are 65 or over. Anybody who feels that they might be suffering from any of these symptoms should visit their GP as soon as possible. An early diagnosis can help ensure that the right treatment and support is put into place.
The symptoms of dementia can be scary, both for you and your loved ones. Personal Alarms can help in these situations. If you, or your loved one, begins to worry or becomes confused about their surroundings they can press their pendant for help.
Read more about dementia
Older people are susceptible to developing diabetes because of changes that happen as our bodies grow and age. Diabetes is a lifelong condition, caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin. It affects an astonishing 3.9 million people here in the United Kingdom.
Among the older population, type 2 diabetes is a growing problem, and a larger proportion of newly diagnosed diabetics are from the older generation. In fact, one in 10 people over 40 are now living with the condition. Lifestyle changes, encouraged by the NHS, to help avoid diabetes include:
- Healthy eating – Increasing the amount of fibre and reducing sugar and fat intake.
- Losing weight – Do this by gradually reducing calorie intake and becoming more physically active.
- Exercising regularly – It is important to keep active by completing both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
Older people are often quite frail and more susceptible to illnesses, which can lead to diabetes-related complications. Furthermore, exercising and adopting a diabetic-friendly diet can be more difficult for elderly people to manage.
Read more about diabetes
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that results in seizures. Oddly, epilepsy is commonly diagnosed in those at polar opposites of the age spectrum. It is most common in young children and people aged over 65. In fact, one in four people diagnosed are over 65. Every day, 87 people are diagnosed with the condition.
Epilepsy can be either symptomatic, meaning it has a clear cause, or idiopathic, meaning its roots are most likely genetic. Symptomatic epilepsy can be caused by head injuries, strokes, tumours or certain serious infections. The condition is commonly diagnosed after somebody has suffered from more than one seizure – as many people have a one-off epileptic seizure during their lifetime.
Epilepsy can be controlled with the help of medications, which help eight out of every 10 people with epilepsy to control their seizures. People should act upon the following guidelines to help make living with the condition a little easier:
- Stay Healthy – Take part in regular exercise and eat a balanced diet.
- Sleep – Ensure that you’re getting enough sleep.
- Avoid Alcohol – Avoid excessive drinking.
Please remember that if you have a seizure, you have a legal responsibility to inform the Driving and Vehicle Licence Authority.
A Fall Detector could be particularly useful to sufferers of epilepsy. This device will automatically detect a fall or sudden unusual movement and will raise an alarm with our Response Team, who will then ensure that help is sent to your home.
Read more about epilepsy
11. Motor Neurone Disease
Motor neurone disease is a rare condition where the nervous system progressively degenerates, leading to muscle weakness often visible by the wasting away of muscle tissue. Motor neurone disease, also known as ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), occurs when motor neurones that control important muscle activities such as walking and speaking in the brain and the spinal cord stop working.
- Difficulty swallowing (and sometimes excessive drooling).
- A weakened grip, usually first noticed in one hand.
- Small twitches and flickers of movement, known as ‘fasciculations’.
- Difficulty speaking or slurred speech, known as ‘dysarthria’.
The causes of the disease are still unknown, but we do know that it commonly affects men more than women and that it occurs most often in people between the ages of 50 and 70-years-old.
Read more about motor neurone disease
12. Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition that affects the brain and spinal cord. The condition can cause serious disability, but the main symptoms are a wide range of problems with vision, movement and even balance.
There are more than 100,000 people in the UK living with the condition. The MS Society estimates that each year 5000 more people are diagnosed – that’s approximately 14 people every day. They go on to say that around one in every 600 people has multiple sclerosis (MS).
Symptoms of MS include:
- Blurred vision.
- Muscle stiffness.
- Balance problems.
- Difficulty walking.
Currently there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but there are a number of treatments out there which can help to control the condition. The treatments available will depend on the specific symptoms of the condition.
Read more about multiple sclerosis
Osteoporosis affects over three million people across the UK, with more than 500,000 people receiving hospital treatment for fragility fractures every year as a result. This condition develops slowly over time and is often left undiagnosed until a fall or impact causes a bone fracture.
This is because osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones. Losing bone mass is a natural part of the ageing process, however some people do lose density faster than normal which leads to Osteoporosis and an increased risk of fracture injuries.
Women are more at risk of the condition because they lose bone density rapidly in the first few years after going through menopause. Medication can help strengthen bones or, alternatively, calcium and vitamin D supplements can be taken as both are very important when it comes to the well-being of bones.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, there are types of exercise that can help combat the condition. These are split into two groups:
- Weight-bearing exercises – Activities which involve moving against gravity whilst staying upright. High-impact examples such as skipping and tennis help to build bones and keep them strong. Low-impact examples such as using a stair-step machine and a treadmill are a safer alternative if you have bone problems.
- Muscle-strengthening exercises – Activities which involve moving the body, weights or other forms of resistance against gravity. Examples include lifting weights, using weight machines and elastic exercise bands.
Suffering from a fall is very common for those who suffer from osteoporosis. Should you suffer from a fall, you may be unable to get back up or reach for your phone. Having a pendant button around your wrist or neck allows you to call for help in event such as this. For added security, we would suggest the Fall Detector plan as this will raise a call even if you’re unable to press the button.
Read more about osteoporosis
14. Paget’s Disease of the Bone
Paget’s disease of the bone disrupts the normal cycle of bone renewal. It’s triggered by a flaw in the bone cell regeneration system, which causes bones to become weakened and possibly deformed.
Paget’s disease is a common bone condition that affects the pelvis, spine and other areas of the body. It is a very common condition in the UK and is most common in people over the age of 50. The condition can be seen in 8% of men and 5% of women by the age of 80.
Symptoms of the condition include the following:
- Constant, dull bone pain.
- Shooting pain that travels along or across the body.
- Numbness and tingling.
- Loss of movement in a part of the body.
The symptoms of this condition can trigger a fall, which can be fatal if there is nobody around to help you. Having a Personal Alarm can help should you suffer from any of the symptoms above, or from a fall. Simply press the red button on your pendant and our Response Team will respond, assess your situation and arrange for help to come to you.
Read more about Paget’s disease
15. Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive condition which damages and affects parts of the brain. It is estimated, by the NHS, that there are around 130,000 people in the UK living with Parkinson’s disease – that’s 1 in every 500 people.
Parkinson’s is caused by a loss of nerve cells in a part of the brain called in the substantia nigra, which leads to a reduction in a chemical in the brain called dopamine. The condition is most common in middle-aged and elderly people. The most common symptoms to look out for are:
- Involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body (tremor).
- Slow movement.
- Stiff and inflexible muscles.
Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. There are treatments available which can help to reduce the main symptoms and allow those affected to maintain their quality of life for as long as possible.
Read more about Parkinson’s disease
Having a stroke is very serious and it can be life-threatening if you don’t seek medical attention straight away. A stroke will occur when the blood supply to a part of your brain is cut off. Without your blood, brain cells can be damaged and may even die.
Strokes a particularly common among older people, with the average age for men to suffer one being 74 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For women, this age is slightly higher, with the average being 80-years-old. Across the UK, strokes are a leading cause of disability with around two thirds of all survivors being left with a disability.
It’s very important to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke, as the sooner you and your loved ones react, the less complications there will be afterwards. As mentioned, strokes can be life-threatening so it’s important for treatment to begin as soon as possible. The most common signs of a stroke can be memorised by using the word F.A.S.T:
- Face – The person affected may be unable to smile and their face may have dropped on one side, with their mouth or eye drooping.
- Arms – The person affected may be unable to life both arms and keep them there due to weakness in one arm.
- Speech – The person affected may suffer from slurred or garbled speech, or may be unable to talk at all.
- Time – Don’t waste any time! Dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
Paramedics are trained to deal with strokes, so if you notice any signs at all you need to call for an ambulance. Wearing an alarm pendant ensures that you can call for help even if you’re unable to reach for the phone. Our Response Team will take care of everything, by calling for your loved ones and the emergency services.
Read more about strokes.
17. Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is often associated with the aging process and is therefore quite common among older people here in the UK. The disease is commonly caused be other medical conditions which have an affect on your kidney, such as kidney infections, high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney inflammation.
According to Kidney Care UK, around 64,000 people in the UK are being treated for kidney failure – this is also known as stage 5 CKD, where kidney function is less than 15%.
Unfortunately, symptoms for the early stages of the condition are quite rare and may only be picked up during a blood or urine test carried out for other medical conditions. As the condition gets worse, you may suffer from:
- Shortness of breath.
- Feeling sick.
- Blood in your urine.
- Swollen ankles, feet or hands.
If you suffer from any of the symptoms above or notice any other worrying changes to your body, you should see your GP as soon as possible.
There is no cure for CKD right now, but there are methods of treatment which can relieve the symptoms and prevent it from getting any worse. Options include medication, living a healthy lifestyle, dialysis or a kidney transplant in severe cases.
Read more about Chronic kidney disease.
18. Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis is caused by a blood clot in your deep veins, which are commonly found in your legs. This condition is most common in people over the age of 40, and can also lead to further complications, including pulmonary embolism.
There are a number of risk factors which could increase your risk of suffering from such a blood clot, including being inactive for longer periods of time, obesity, blood vessel damage and a family history of blood blots.
Blood vessel damage can be caused by smoking, so in order to lower your risk of deep vein thrombosis and several other medical conditions you should seriously consider quitting.
The most common symptoms to look out for include:
- Pain, swelling and tenderness in one of your legs.
- A heavy ache in the affected area.
- Red skin – particularly at the back of your leg, below the knee.
- Warm skin in the area of the clot.
- A mild fever.
Medication which thin your blood and therefore reduce the blood’s ability to clot and prevents existing clots from increasing in size, are is commonly used as treatment. Alongside your medication, you will also be told to make some lifestyle changes.
Read more about deep vein thrombosis.
Shingles is a skin condition which is very common among older people, especially those over the age of 70. This is due to the fact that your body’s immune system becomes weaker as you age.
This medical condition is caused by the same virus which causes chickenpox, and only those who have had chickenpox can develop shingles. The infection will cause a painful rash or blisters to form on your skin, which may become extremely itchy.
If you have shingles, the affected area will feel quite tender and you may experience sharp stabbing pains every now and then. Other symptoms include a burning and tingling feeling in the affected areas, as well as a high temperature and a general feeling of being unwell.
The earlier that you see your doctor, the sooner treatment can begin which means the severity of your condition may be reduced. The NHS suggest using Calamine Lotion as this has a cool, soothing effect on the skin and can relieve the itchy feeling. If your blisters are weeping, you can use a cloth or flannel which has been cooled with tap water.
People aged 70 or 78-years-old qualify for a free shingles vaccination with the NHS, and this is the best way of avoiding the condition.
Read more about Shingles.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance which is created by your liver and is also found in some foods. It is then carried around your body by proteins in your blood, with the combination of the two being known medically as lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins; low density and high density, with the latter being classed as good cholesterol.
Having high cholesterol is bad for your body and can be caused by a number of lifestyle choices and medical conditions, such as:
- An unhealthy diet.
- High blood pressure.
- A family history of stroke or heart disease.
Being old can also increase your chances of having high cholesterol, as the risk of your arteries narrowing is much higher. The best way to lower or avoid high cholesterol in the first place is by living as healthily as possible.
This includes staying as active a possible by exercising or taking part in sporting activities, eating healthy foods, lowering your alcohol intake and trying to stop smoking.
Read more about how cholesterol works and the dangers it can cause.
Living with Medical Conditions
A very high percentage of medical conditions cause those affected to drastically change their lifestyles in order to manage them. It is important to first understand the medical condition and then move forward with support and treatments.
It is still possible to live a normal life with a long-term medical condition. Those affected can plan their care and medication with their family or loved ones, working together to understand their new lifestyle and they can bring control and management into living with a medical condition.
Staying Safe at Home
A personal alarm can help protect people if they suffer from medical conditions like those mentioned in this article. If one of our alarm users feels unwell, or suffers a fall, he or she can press their pendant button and help will be arranged immediately.
For more information on purchasing one of our life-saving personal alarms, send an email at [email protected] or speak to one of our friendly advisers on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our contact us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Editors note: This article on medical conditions was originally published on September 7, 2017. Updated on October 16, 2019 to improve the information available.
Remember to use the discount code BLOG2019 when you order one of our personal alarm systems on a Monthly or Annual Plan to receive £10 off.
11 Common Aging Health Issues
As we age, we notice more outward signs of the passing years such as deepening wrinkles, pronounced laugh lines, grey hair, or we pick up our reading glasses more frequently. But with age, we can also experience some health concerns that might not be as visible. If you are noticing concerning health symptoms in your loved one, they might be signs of more serious issues. Here are eleven of the most common aging health issues that you should be aware of. Speak with your General Manager or Health Services Director at your Aegis Living community if you have questions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost half of all adults 65 years or older suffer from arthritis. As the nation’s number one cause of disability, arthritis can be a source of acute pain and impact quality of life. Because arthritis can discourage your family member from physical activity, it is important that you work with your their doctor to manage their condition and control any discomfort.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Coronary Heart Disease is the number one cause of death in women in the United States. As the most common type of heart disease in seniors, atherosclerosis is the buildup of fatty deposits and plaque in the walls of the arteries. Depending on where the accumulation is located in the body, this blockage can disrupt the flow of blood and oxygen or lead to a heart attack or stroke. But heart disease is not a normal part of the aging process, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best prevention.
It is estimated that over two million bones are fractured due to osteoporosis every year in the U.S. With the aging baby boomer population reaching retirement age in the United States, this statistic will rise. The International Osteoporosis Organization estimates a bone is fractured worldwide every three seconds. Women are at higher risk due to the loss of estrogen as they age. In the five to seven years following menopause, women can lose up to 20% of their bone density. There are steps that you can take to prevent and monitor bone loss and bone density.
With an estimated 5.3 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease, the baby boomer population will greatly impact this statistic over the next several years—especially among women who make up almost two-thirds of all diagnosed. Some of the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is forgetting recently learned information, repeatedly asking for the same information, relying on memory aides as a crutch, asking a family member to assist with tasks that they normally were able to handle, and confusion about time and place. If you are concerned that your parent or spouse is showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease, speak with your Health Services Director or make an appointment to meet with their physician.
Pneumonia is a common and potentially serious illness for the frail. For adults over the age of 65, the annual incidence of pneumonia is four times greater than younger age groups, with a higher rate of hospitalization. It is currently the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. Pneumonia is an acute infection of the lungs and can be caused by a variety of microorganisms, including fungi, bacteria or virus. Approximately one-third of the cases of pneumonia in the United States are caused by viruses. Seniors are more susceptible to pneumonia because of the prevalence of both disability and comorbid diseases. Other known independent risk factors for pneumonia include alcoholism, asthma, immunosuppression, and heart disease.
According to the American Diabetes Association, more than one-quarter of the adults in America over the age of 65 have diabetes (types 1 or 2). Approximately one-half of older adults have prediabetes. Among the aging populations, type 2 diabetes is an increasing problem and a disproportionately large number of the newly diagnosed diabetics are elderly. Diabetes requires a significant amount of self-care which can be difficult for older patients to manage on their own. If your parent is diabetic, it is important to understand the barriers—both physically and mentally—so they get the necessary assistance to successfully manage their own care.
The medical community has long recognized that the senior population is at higher risk for serious complications and hospitalization due to influenza. Because immune defenses weaken with age, this elderly age group contains the largest number of deaths attributed to the flu. If you are caring for an elderly family member or visiting them in an assisted living community, wash your hands frequently and get a flu shot during cold and flu season. And if you are sick, do not visit your until you are no longer contagious to prevent the spread of the flu.
A fall for an older person can be the cause of great concern because it can result in broken bones, abrasions, or worse. There are many factors attributable to a senior’s fall risk, including eye and ear disorders, medication interactions, numbness, joint pain, dizziness, muscle strength, and walking gait. It is important to take precautions to reduce the possibility of falls. In some cases, families find great comfort in moving their loved one to an assisted living community where care staff can help your parent, especially when walking, standing from a seated position, toileting, and carrying items. However, whether a senior is living in a private home or a community setting, fall risks are always a possibility.
Poor oral health can affect more than your parent enjoying a family meal. It can be detrimental to their health and quality of life. Tooth loss, gum disease, dry mouth, sensitive teeth, and poor oral health can contribute to significant weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration, pain, interrupted sleep, and communication issues. Although age contributes to oral health problems, there are ways for your parent to care for their mouth. Regular dentist visits are just as important as we age, as they are when we’re younger.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, older adults with depression often show less obvious symptoms and are less likely to confide their feelings of sadness or despair. Also, they are at greater risk of depression if they have a physical illness and medical condition that can make symptoms worse. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the signs of depression to get the help needed. Depression is treatable through counseling, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, or a combination of these. Consult with your parent’s physician if you are worried they suffer from depression.
There are approximately one million estimated cases of shingles in the U.S. per year. This startling statistic estimates that one out of every three people will develop shingles at some point in their lifetime, and the elderly are particularly susceptible. Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. It is a painful, blistering skin rash that lasts about two to four weeks. Shingles is common in older adults due to a weakened immune system, stress, injury, certain medications, and other factors. The good news is that most will heal from shingles without recurrence.
We are all aware of what we are supposed to do—eat well, stay active, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and see your doctor regularly. But sometimes, that can be easier said than done. Despite our best efforts there are many contributing factors to health issues. These are just a few of the common illnesses you may see in your aging loved one. If you suspect any changes in your parent speak to your Health Services Director, and know that our HSD, Care Director and staff are looking out for your loved one and will share any noticeable changes with you as well.
Again, the Healthy Aging Checklist summarizes the six fundamental activities I recommend when asked what to do to maintain the best possible health while aging. They are:
- Promote brain health and emotional well-being.
- Promote physical health.
- Check for and address common senior health problems (such as falls, memory concerns, depression, incontinence, pain, isolation, polypharmacy).
- Learn to optimize the management of any chronic conditions.
- Get recommended preventive health services for older adults.
- Address medical, legal, and financial advance care planning.
In this post, I’ll cover the third item: addressing commonly neglected senior health problems that routinely sabotage healthy aging.
These issues are sometimes referred to as geriatric syndromes. They affect health and quality of life, and although they happen more in people who are older or frailer, they affect countless people in their 60s and 70s as well.
Virtually all of these issues affect a senior’s ability to socialize, be physically active, and take good care of himself or herself. So addressing these is key to enabling healthier aging.
Unfortunately, these issues routinely fall through the cracks of usual medical care. People often suffer from these problems for years without anyone taking effective action.
This may be because many people — doctors, seniors themselves, or family members — assume nothing can be done about these, and that they are just “part of getting old.”
Don’t believe that. We have studied these problems in geriatrics and most of the time, correctly evaluating and then managing these problems helps older adults and their families feel better, live better, and sometimes even live longer.
Remember, healthy aging is not just about preventing problems. It’s also about spotting them and addressing them before they get worse, or drag down the rest of your health and independence.
So for healthier aging, be proactive in checking for these oft-neglected problems.
And then remember: sub-optimal treatment of these problems is all too common. So you’ll need to be proactive about getting them correctly managed — which might mean either seeing a geriatrician (nice if you can find one) or making sure your usual doctor is thinking like one.
Here’s what to look for, and how to learn more:
7 Common Problems to Check for and Address for Healthier Aging
Get Your Free Healthy Aging Part 3 Cheatsheet! A summary of the 7 commonly neglected problems that often sabotage healthy aging, in a handy PDF checklist that you can print or save. Includes useful resources to help you learn more or get help.
Why: Falls are very common in older adults. Many falls cause only minor injuries, but they are scary and can cause older adults to restrict their activities. In fact, fear of falling is common and has been linked to decreased involvement in activities; it’s also a risk factor for future falls.
More substantial falls can cause life-changing injuries such as broken hips and head injuries, and are a major reason for people having to leave their homes.
Note: Most falls in older adults are due to a combination of underlying risk factors or health problems. Insufficient strength or balance is usually one of the problems — which can be addressed with the right exercises — but it’s good to check for other factors, such as medication side-effects or even a new illness.
For more information:
- CDC STEADI Materials for Older Adults (see here for PDF to check your risk factors)
- Why Older People Fall
- How to Prevent Falls: 5 Proven Approaches to Ask the Doctor About
- 8 Things to Have the Doctor Check After an Aging Person Falls
- NIH Go 4 Life Balance Exercises for Fall Prevention (includes videos)
2. Memory concerns
Why: Memory concerns often cause anxiety for older adults and families. They may — or may not — reflect substantial decreases in thinking abilities. Evaluation helps by providing a more objective measure of whether a person is cognitively impaired, and to what extent. Even more importantly, evaluation can uncover treatable causes of decreased brain function, such as medication side-effects, thyroid problems, and a variety of other problems which are common in older adults.
Note: People are often reluctant to have memory concerns evaluated because they are worried that it could be Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. They also may believe that “nothing can be done.” It can help to tell people that we can often find ways to improve a person’s brain function, either by identifying and treating an underlying health problem or by encouraging the activities that promote brain health.
For more information:
- What’s Causing Your Memory Loss? It’s not necessarily Alzheimer’s
- Is It Really Dementia?
- How We Diagnose Dementia: The Practical Basics to Know (this post explains exactly how I evaluate memory concerns and tells you how to prepare to see a doctor for this purpose.)
Why: Although healthy older adults have lower rates of depression than the general public, depression is still a common problem that is easily missed. It’s more common in those who are struggling with illness, involved in caregiving, or socially isolated. It’s important to spot and treat depression, as this is key to better quality of life and greater involvement in social activities. It can also enable older adults to better manage any health problems they have, such as chronic diseases or pain.
Note: One important sign of depression in seniors is “anhedonia,” which means one stops enjoying activities that used to bring pleasure. If you notice this in an older person — or yourself — it’s important to get help. Studies show that medication and psychotherapy are generally equally effective in mild-moderate depression, but non-drug treatment often isn’t offered unless you ask. Among medications, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) sertraline and escitalopram tend to have fewer side-effects and drug interactions. Avoid paroxetine (Paxil) as it is anticholinergic, which means it dampens brain function.
For more information:
- Depression in Older Adults and the Elderly
- Pharmacological Treatment of Depression in the Elderly (review article written for family physicians; walks the reader through a nice real-life example)
4. Urinary Incontinence
Why: Having chronic difficulties controlling one’s bladder is a common problem for older adults, and tends to get worse with aging. It affects both men and women, although it may have different underlying causes, such as prostate enlargement in men. It is often embarrassing, can cause seniors to restrict their social or physical activities, and has been linked to depression.
Note: Incontinence comes in different “types,” each of which can have different causes. Correctly identifying the type and causes is key to effective treatment. Finding suitable pads to manage leaks can also make a big difference. (They are apparently not all equal, and doctors — including myself — have little idea which is best.) Do remember that medications to treat bladder spasms are usually quite anticholinergic, hence risky for brain function. To help a doctor evaluate incontinence, it’s helpful to log your symptoms in a voiding diary for 3 days prior to the appointment.
For more information:
- What to Know About Bladder Control for Women
- Urinary Incontinence in Men
Why: Surveys suggest that about 50% of all adults aged 65+ experience bothersome pain every month, often in multiple parts of the body. Persisting pain is linked with decreased social and physical activity, depression, and taking worse care of one’s own health. Pain can also be the sign of a new health problem that needs attention or a chronic problem that’s being inadequately managed.
Note: Pain can and should be managed by non-drug approaches whenever possible. Studies have found that pain can often be lessened through certain types of psychotherapy, exercises or physical therapy, and many other approaches. Treatment with medication may still be necessary, especially for short-term purposes or in combination with other approaches. Bear in mind that many over-the-counter pain medications (such as Advil and Motrin) are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are risky for older adults when used chronically or in high doses.
For more information:
- Dealing with Persistent Pain in Older Adults
- Pain Management in Older Adults: Tools & Tips
- Experts Warn Against Long-Term Use of Common Pain Pills
6. Isolation and loneliness
Why: Both isolation (not having a lot of social contact with others) and loneliness (the feeling of lacking social connection) have been linked to declines in physical health. A 2012 study found that 43% of older adults reported feeling lonely; over the next 6 years, they were more likely to lose physical abilities or die. Loneliness and isolation have also been linked to decreased immune function and greater risk of depression.
Note: Older adults who live alone or have been bereaved are at particular risk, especially if health problems are interfering with their ability to get out and about. But even people who are in proximity to others — such as family caregivers or seniors residing in a facility — may suffer from feeling lonely.
Studies have found that certain psychotherapies — including mindfulness — can help reduce feelings of loneliness and even inflammation in the body. However another study found that isolation seems to be a stronger risk factor for premature death than loneliness, so it’s important to relieve social isolation as well. Arranging more social contact usually helps. It’s also vital to address any health concerns (including fear of falling, incontinence, or pain) that may be keeping a senior from getting out and about.
For more information:
- Isolation V. Loneliness: The Difference And Why It Matters
- What Works for Health: Activity Programs for Older Adults
- 14 Ways to Help Seniors Avoid Social Isolation
7. Polypharmacy (Taking Multiple Medications)
Why: Polypharmacy means taking multiple medications. It’s a problem mainly because as people get older, they become especially at risk for harm from medication side-effects or interactions. According to the CDC, every year 177,000 older adults visit the emergency room due to medication problems.
Polypharmacy also burdens older adults because purchasing all those drugs can be costly, plus it can be a real hassle to have to take medications at several times every day. Last but not least, when people have been prescribed many medications, it’s harder for them to take them correctly. This can lead to worsening of a chronic condition, or even misguided medical care as doctors may fail to realize that a patient hasn’t been able to take all medication as directed.
Note: The main thing you should know is that many older adults are taking medications they don’t really need. It’s basically much easier for doctors to prescribe medications than to “deprescribe.” Research has documented that inappropriate prescribing of medications is common. A careful medication review will often identify medications that are marginally useful or no longer necessary, but you may not get such a review unless you request it.
For more information:
- How to Review Medications for Safety & Appropriateness
- How to Think Like a Geriatrician about Senior Medications
- A Prescription for Confusion: When to Take All Those Pills
- MedStopper.com (Pharmacist-created online resource designed to help with deprescribing)
Have these problems been sabotaging your healthy aging?
If so, I hope the resources above will help you take action.
Now, I’ll admit that it can be very difficult to completely eliminate the problems above in some older adults.
But you have to try, especially if the problem is bothering a person or interfering with life activities. And you have to find professionals who will use the best-available knowledge to help you do so.
When we make a good effort, we can almost always improve an older person’s ability to be out in the world, doing the things they want to be doing, and doing things that are good for their health.
And that promotes healthy aging. So don’t let these problems fester and sabotage late-life health. And let me know below if you have questions.
Get Your Free Healthy Aging Part 3 Cheatsheet! A summary of the 7 commonly neglected problems that often sabotage healthy aging, in a handy PDF checklist that you can print or save. Includes useful resources to help you learn more or get help.