Turning 65 means reaching a milestone. For some, it means retirement, for others, it brings a sense of peace and joy over a life well-lived. But for nearly everyone, it also brings some new health problems and concerns.
Of course, plenty of people live well past 65 without any disease or major aches and pains. But since preventative care and early diagnosis are important, it’s best to be aware of things that can happen before you reach your golden years. These are the most common ailments in those over 65 (number 8 is surprising.)
Arthritis is one of the most common conditions for those over 65 to deal with, according to geriatrician Marie Bernard, MD. The CDC estimates that about half of all adults 65 and older have arthritis, which can be very painful and lead to a lower quality of life. Working with your doctor to develop the right plan for you is the key to maintaining your quality of life.
Next: This disease doesn’t discriminate based on age.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death among people over age 65, according to the CDC. Early detection through mammograms, skin checks, and other screenings can significantly improve your odds of beating the disease, so you should never miss even a routine doctor visit.
Next: Being robbed of your memories is horrible.
The Alzheimer’s Association states that one in nine people over the age of 65 have the disease. But since diagnosing the problem can be challenging, it’s tough to determine the exact number of people living with it. There is currently no cure, although there are things you can do to delay its onset if it’s caught early.
Next: This health condition is especially risky for seniors.
Diabetes affects about 25% of Americans over the age of 65, according to the American Diabetes Association. If left undiagnosed, this can be a serious risk to your health. Your doctor will be able to tell you if you’re at a risk, and if you are, making lifestyle changes may be able to prevent it.
Next: This is the number one killer of Americans over 65.
5. Heart disease
Heart disease is a killer in America — in fact, it’s the leading cause of death for adults over 65. As you age, you’re more likely to have risk factors that increase your odds, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of rest will help lower your risk.
Next: Maintaining your weight doesn’t get any easier once you reach 65.
Obesity can lead to other chronic conditions, and unfortunately, your metabolism slows as you age. Weight loss after 65 isn’t easy (and the subject is somewhat controversial), so getting in shape when you’re younger is your best bet. But since no one has the ability to teleport back in time and make better choices, you can clean up your diet and add some movement to your day at any age.
Next: Here’s why you should get your flu shot this year.
By the time you hit 65, your immune system isn’t as strong as it used to be. You’ll probably have an easier time getting the flu, which is dangerous and potentially deadly in seniors. Get your flu shot every year and try not to be around those who are sick.
Next: If you think you might have a problem, please seek help.
8. Substance abuse
Alcoholics and drug users don’t always grow out of their habits. Results from this survey show that one in five people over 65 have had a substance or alcohol abuse problem at some point in their lives. If you’re drinking more than you know you should be or you’ve developed a substance habit, seek help as soon as possible so you can live out your golden years happy and healthy.
Next: This is a pretty well-known condition for most seniors.
Unfortunately, osteoporosis is common among older adults. About 54 million Americans over age 50 are affected by it, and since you can’t grow your bones back, it’s best to try and prevent it. Here’s how:
- Eat a nutritious diet
- Get plenty of calcium
- Get plenty of Vitamin D
- Participate in regular weight bearing activity
- Avoid heavy drinking
Next: It’s important to stay connected to your loved ones.
According to the American Psychological Association, 15%-20% of Americans over the age of 65 have experienced depression. Not only can depression make you miserable, it can actually lower your immunity and make it harder for your body to fight infection and disease. In addition to getting treatment through therapy and possible medication, seniors can lower their risk of depression by getting plenty of exercise and staying social.
Next: Keep going to the dentist as you get older.
11. Oral health issues
Since a very high percentage of adults over 65 have gum disease, and 25% of them have no natural teeth at all, it’s safe to say that oral health is a concern for older Americans. Your mouth tends to become dryer as you and cavities become tougher to prevent, so good oral health care is vital. Take good car of your teeth and gums and see your dentist regularly.
Next: The risk for this common injury increases with age.
12. Injuries from falls
The risk for falls requiring emergency room care increases with age. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent this other than being as cautious as possible. Remove tripping hazards from your phone including slippery bathroom mats and area rugs, and always make sure you have a phone nearby if you need it.
Next: 50% of Americans will experience this condition before age 80.
Shingles, a viral infection that causes a painful rash, is most common in older adults with lowered immune systems. It typically affects only one side of your body, starting out with severe pain or tingling and then developing into an itchy rash and possibly blisters. You may wish to speak to your doctor about getting the shingles vaccine.
Next: Pay attention to your lung function.
14. Respiratory diseases
Respiratory issues can affect people at any age, but they’re especially prevalent in older adults. In fact, chronic respiratory diseases are the third most common cause of death among people 65 and older. Getting treatment for respiratory issues usually involves working with a respiratory therapist to get a proper diagnosis of any breathing difficulties, and getting lung function tests can help ensure you’re getting the proper treatment.
Next: Here are some ways you can beat the fight against time.
Tips for healthy senior living
Some health conditions are the result of genetics or just plain bad luck. That being said, getting older doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop these issues. Staying diligent about taking care of yourself will better your odds. This means:
- You should stay as active as you possibly can. If you’ve never been active in your life, it’s never too late to start, although talking to your doctor about exercise first is recommended.
- Eat a nutritious diet full of fruits and vegetables.
- Eat more fiber.
- Cut back on red meat, sugary treats, and alcohol.
- Keep an active social life to avoid feeling isolate.
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