It’s no secret that getting older can come with challenges to your health. However, by becoming aware and implementing simple preventative measures, many of these common chronic conditions can become much easier to stave off. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the average 65-year-old is capable of living at least another 19.3 years. By making strides towards healthy lifestyle choices, such as routine exercise and quitting smoking, you can be more confident in your long-term health. Here’s a look at some hot health topics for older adults.
Arthritis is one of the most common conditions among older adults. The CDC estimates that it affects 49.6% of all adults over 65.
Arthritis can attack any joint in your body, leading to chronic pain and lower quality of life. There are various types of arthritis, each with their own degree of pain and potential limitations to your mobility. Osteoarthritis is the most common strain of the disease, and it is a direct result of worn cartilage between joints and other natural physical effects of aging. In its most severe stages, cartilage may even be completely gone, resulting in bones rubbing against each other.
While some risk factors of arthritis may not be under your direct control, there are healthy habits you can establish in your day-to-day life that can serve as preventative measures against it. Even if you already deal with the effects of it, these methods can help improve your quality of life by increasing your mobility and reducing the extent of your joint pain.
While arthritis may be one of the most common chronic conditions among older adults, heart disease remains the leading killer of people aged 65+. Accounting for almost 500,000 deaths across America in the year 2014 alone, the disease affects 31.8% of people in this age bracket. As you age, your chances of developing heart disease increase due to certain age-related risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol.
For this reason, one preventative measure you can take toward staving off heart disease is having your blood pressure checked as regularly as possible. Even if you’re the picture of health, untreated high blood pressure can lead to heart disease and a higher risk of stroke and issues with your brain, eyes and kidneys.
Outside of routine blood pressure checks, other health habits you can implement to keep heart disease at bay aren’t too different from the habits that balk arthritis. Routine exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and a balanced diet and establishing a good sleep schedule can go a long way in keeping your heart happy and healthy.
If heart disease is the leading cause of death in older adults, cancer is a close runner-up. Over 1.8 million people were diagnosed with cancer in the United States alone in 2020, with more than half of these diagnoses given to people over the age of 65.
Certain cancers (breast, colon, prostate, etc.) are more common in older adults than others. Fortunately, most of these are easy to detect in their early stages when they’re most treatable. However, some other types, such as lung cancer, may be more difficult to detect early on, and treatments are often more complicated.
In addition to staying active and maintaining a balanced diet, the best thing you can do to lower your risk is to quit smoking and reduce your alcohol intake. According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, adopting healthy habits and cutting unhealthy ones out of your life can decrease your risk of cancer by as much as 40%.
The Alzheimer’s Association reports that one in nine older adults (about 11%) suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Health care professionals across the board acknowledge how cognitive impairment impacts the health of older adults on multiple levels, from issues of safety and maintaining independence to the types and costs of care and treatment available.
Multiple studies have shown black coffee and caffeinated teas to have a profoundly positive effect in lowering the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Additionally, music therapy has become an essential aspect of memory care and dementia prevention.
If you believe you or a loved one may be suffering from the effects of cognitive or memory impairment, Bethesda Senior Living Communities' faith-based approach to memory care may offer some answers for you.