Most People Over the Age of 65 Have These Deadly Diseases

The older you get, the harder it becomes to avoid getting sick. Your immune system isn’t what it used to be. Your whole body hurts (but why?). Sometimes, food doesn’t even taste as good as it used to.

With age comes the realization that many of the illnesses you’ve dodged up to this point could be right around the corner. But you’re not alone. Most people your age are just as sick as you might be. Here are the diseases you should look out for, including a deadly health problem with early symptoms (page 9).

1. Cancer

A nurse is working in a room where patients undergo chemotherapy treatment

Cancer only becomes more common as you age. | Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

Sure, cancer is a common disease, but it’s the second leading cause of death among people over the age of 65. Some of the health conditions discussed throughout this list increase your cancer risk, especially as you age. Preventing or managing disease could leave you cancer-free for a lifetime.

Next: You’re more likely to have a stroke if you have this disease.

2. Diabetes

young man using lancelet on finger

Managing blood sugar is inconvenient but necessary. |

Type 2 diabetes falls among the most common causes of death in the country. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels increase your chances of getting heart disease and having a stroke, in addition to a long list of other health problems. If you face the possibility of diabetes, be diligent to control it.

Next: Many people don’t talk about this problem, but they should.

3. Substance use disorders

wine glasses in a restaurant

One too many glasses of wine can add up. | iStock/Getty Images

It’s estimated as many as one in five people over 65 have had an alcohol or other substance use problem at some point in their lives. These behaviors can cause long-term damage to your brain and other organs. Alcohol abuse, for example, increases your chances of getting dementia later in life.

Next: A simple solution could decrease your chances of this disease.

4. Depression

man looking sad

Feeling low? |

Living alone, isolating yourself from friends and family, and neglecting physical activity — even if none of this is intentional — can both increase your chances of and can be symptoms of developing major depression.

Next: Protect your heart at all costs!

5. Heart disease

Heart Pain

Is this your worst nightmare? | TeoLazarev/iStock/Getty Images

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans over the age of 65. Diet and exercise become increasingly important at this age, so you can protect your heart from irreversible damage.

Next: It’s basically a miracle if you don’t already have this.

6. High blood pressure


Make sure to get your blood pressure tested regularly. | Zinkevych/iStock/Getty Images

Over 60% of men and women over the age of 65 either have high blood pressure or are taking medication to treat it, says the CDC. This condition not only increases your risk of heart disease, but also makes you more likely to die of a stroke.

Next: A weakened immune system is no joke.

7. Influenza

Make sure you regularly talk to your doctor about your health.

Flu complications only become more severe as you age. | Ridofranz/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

For most people, the flu is no big deal. Unfortunately, your risk of developing deadly flu complications increases significantly once you reach the age of 65. Take extra precautions during flu season to make sure you don’t get sick.

Next: This painful disease often comes with age.

8. Arthritis

Elderly couple and respect

Age is not always gentle on us. |

There are over 100 types of arthritis that can affect your joints. Most often, these diseases can cause pain and swelling, making it difficult to perform daily tasks and activities, depending on which part of the body it affects.

Next: A broken bone can change everything.

9. Osteoporosis

As you age, your bone density decreases. | Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

People living with osteoporosis are more prone to painful and sometimes life-threatening bone fractures. Exercise and adequate calcium and vitamin D intake after age 35, when bone density starts decreasing, can prevent this disease.

Next: This disease is a major health concern no matter your age.

10. Obesity

Women weighing her weight in a doctor's room

Watching your weight is vital. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Millions of Americans all over the country — and many more people around the world — are overweight or obese. This health condition increases your risk of dozens of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more.

Next: You don’t have to be underweight to suffer from this.

11. Malnutrition

Pretty blonde standing near open empty fridge

Eating nutritious foods is key. |

Many adults over the age of 65 fall into or remain in poverty, which makes it more difficult to maintain a consistent diet that will keep them healthy. Others develop dementia or other health conditions that increase the risk of dehydration and poor nutrition.

Next: Your chances of dying from this disease increase when you hit 65.

12. Pneumonia

man coughing as he stands outside

Watch that cough, it could be something more serious. |

Similar to influenza, pneumonia is a common respiratory disease that can actually be deadly if you have a compromised immune system. You likely fall under this category if you’re under the age of two or over the age of 65.

Next: Brushing your teeth might not be enough.

13. Dental diseases

elder person smiling

Taking care of your mouth is more important than you think. | Robert Daly/Getty Images

As you get older, you face an increased risk of issues such as gum disease and mouth cancer because of dry mouth, cavities, and other problems. These are especially prevalent among those who use Medicare but cannot pay for additional dental insurance, which the program does not cover.

Next: People with this disease have problems with memory and confusion.

14. Alzheimer’s disease

Senior Couple smiling

Your mind may start to sleep. | Feverpitched/ iStock/ Getty Images

There could one day be a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Until then, an estimated 5 million Americans will continue to live with it — and thousands will die from it — every year. Age is the most influential factor when assessing your dementia risk.

Next: Thankfully, you can get a vaccine for this.

15. Shingles

Nurse fills syringe from injection vial

This painful disease is difficult to manage. |

Shingles causes a rash and blistering, and is much more common in older adults than in younger people. You can ask your doctor about getting a shingles vaccine if you’re concerned about developing the disease in your 50s or 60s.

Next: It’s hard to “see” this disease at first.

16. Macular degeneration

man rubbing his eyes while he works on a laptop

Eye fatigue and decreased peripheral vision may indicate a bigger issue. | iStock/Getty Images

Also known as vision loss, eye diseases greatly affect those over 65. An estimated 25 million people (over 40 years old) have cataracts, or clouding in the eye due to clumps of protein; more than 2.5 million people have glaucoma, or a buildup of pressure that causes optic nerve damage.

Left untreated, many of these eye diseases can cause vision loss and even blindness. It’s important to get regular visions tests and undergo the proper treatments to maintain the best eyesight you can.

Next: Thinking about this disease will get under your skin.

17. Nail fungal infections

A woman massages her foot

Taking off your shoes may be too embarrassing. | Source: iStock

A little fungus on your body is normal, but an overgrowth could lead to a nail fungal infection. You’ll likely notice the infection in the toenails, but it can occur in your fingernails, too. How to spot it? Your nails may thicken and look discolored, then start to crumble around the edges.

About 10-20% of adults face this disease at some point, but the elderly experience it most of all. Treatment can be pricey and take a while. You can use oral medication or topical ointments to rid yourself of this uncomfortable infection.

Next: Retirement homes can get pretty wild.

18. Sexually transmitted diseases

A woman massages her foot

Taking off your shoes may be too embarrassing. | Source: iStock

Older Americans are experiencing an alarming — and growing — rate of sexually transmitted diseases. Although the rates of infection are still higher in young adults, adults 45 and older see positive STD results more and more each year.

No matter your age, it’s important to practice safe sex and get tested regularly. Left untreated, STDs can hurt you long-term.

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