The world is over the edge. Since the beginning of recorded history, the world has never witnessed this demographical dilemma. In the very near future, the number of people aged 65 or older will outnumber children under age 5. According to the U.S. Census Bureau Survey, by the year 2035, there will be 78.0 million people over the age of 65 as compared to 76.4 million people under the age of 18. Improved health facilities resulting in increased life expectancy and declining rates of fertility are all contributing towards this change.
Keeping these numbers in mind, you would already know that older adults are bound to experience medical conditions and would need adequate care and support. Therefore, it becomes extremely important that you are aware of some of the most common medical symptoms experienced by older adults. Below are 7 common symptoms that affect most of the elderly population not just in the U.S. but also around the world.
Cardiovascular diseases (health conditions related to the heart and blood vessels) remain the most common cause of death among the older population. People over the age of 50 are at the risk of developing arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, and heart failure and these cardiovascular conditions are some of the most common causes of hospital visits among older adults.
The second most common chronic health condition is osteoarthritis. The condition is far more common among women as compared to men. Osteoarthritis is one of the leading causes of joint pain, reduced mobility, and increased physical dependence. While surgical joint replacement is a possible treatment option, it is quite expensive. Therefore, most people resort to pain management.
A health condition that is most common after the age of 45 is Type 2 diabetes, also known as Diabetes Mellitus. It is an immune system disorder that does not allow the body to digest the sugar in the food. As a result, the blood sugar level remains elevated which in the long run can cause damage to various other organs, nerve endings, and blood vessels. This damage to the body results in various health conditions such as kidney failure, blindness, stroke, and heart attack.
A sedentary lifestyle and dietary imbalances can further increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes among older adults.
When blood flows through the vessels, it exerts pressure on the walls of these vessels. This pressure is known as blood pressure. When the body is at rest, the blood pressure is on the lower side. However, if a person is stressed or excited, the blood pressure increases. Also, blood pressure tends to increase naturally as the person ages. Continuous levels of high blood pressure can rupture the blood vessels and this in turn can damage various organs including the brain, heart, blood vessels, and the kidneys.
Changes in Muscle Mass
Muscle mass contributes to almost 50% of your body weight. One of the most common effects of aging is the loss of muscle mass. By the time you turn 30, your body starts losing muscle mass at a rate of 3-4% every decade. And the rate increases over the age of 60. By the age of 85, around 20% of people experience sarcopenia, significant loss of muscle mass. And even when the loss is not significant, it is there and can affect a person’s mobility and strength.
Another common health condition that most older adults experience as they age is dementia. This is a cognitive condition that can manifest itself in the form of memory loss, drastic mood changes, difficulty in decision making, confusion, and difficulty in communicating. One of the most common causes of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease but there are other diseases that can cause dementia. While the risk of dementia increases with age, it is not a by-product of the aging process.
Depression can affect people of all ages but senior citizens are at a higher risk of developing depression. Retirement, loss of social circle and declining health conditions are some of the factors that contribute towards developing depressive symptoms. Older adults may not complain about being sad, instead, depression resonates in the form of loss of motivation, lack of energy, and worsened physical pains along with a feeling of constant despair. If not treated well in time, depression in seniors can quickly turn into a serious medical condition.
Osteoporosis, auditory and visual losses, cataracts, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are just a few of the many other age-related diseases that are likely to affect older adults. However, it is important to remember that the process of aging is a natural one and in itself is not a disease. Instead, it is a risk factor for many other medical conditions.
Again, this does not mean that you are bound to have an age-related disease as you grow older, instead, as you age, you become more likely to experience one or more of the above mentioned medical conditions. Other environmental factors such as exposure to pollutants, radiation, and an unhealthy lifestyle may contribute to accelerating the rate of these medical conditions.