As the saying goes: growing old is not for the faint-hearted, but it’s also a privilege denied to many.
There is great joy and accomplishment in growing older, but there is also a chance your golden years could be plagued by ill-health. While this may sound depressing, it’s the reality of aging — however, this reality is not always set in stone.
To learn more about common age-related diseases and how to avoid them as you grow older, this blog is your go-to.
Why Are Age-Related Diseases So Common?
In today’s world, extended longevity comes with its own set of risks. This includes age-related diseases and health conditions that arise when one lives for longer.
Most age-related diseases begin to present themselves after the age of 65.
As we grow older we also become increasingly frail and vulnerable to illness. By nature, the elderly are prone to slips and falls, which often result in surgery and the onset of other health conditions.
Some of the most influential factors that contribute to these diseases include lifestyle, environment, genetics, and a lack of care. This is where senior care planning services are very important in today’s society.
Age-Related Diseases and How to Avoid Them
Just because a person is over the age of 65, it doesn’t mean they will develop any of the below conditions.
However, knowledge is power — so here’s what you should know about age-related disease and how to delay its onset:
- Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease
Dementia is a neurological condition that is slowly degenerative.
Dementia is, essentially, a loss of brain function, which intensifies over time. Common symptoms include changes in character, loss of memory, poor judgment, and lack of concentration.
There is a myriad of neurological diseases that fall under the umbrella of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common. Other forms of dementia include Lewy Body dementia, Huntington’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, and more.
Some form of memory loss and reduced brain function is a natural part of aging. But the onset of dementia can be delayed through lifestyle and diet.
Maintaining an active social life, keeping the mind busy and engaged, and eating a healthy, balanced diet are all key to avoiding dementia.
- Stroke Aka Cerebrovascular Disease
The onset of a stroke tends to catch most seniors off-guard and the results can sometimes be devastating. A stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is stunted. This is usually caused by a blockage of the blood vessels.
There are two variations of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. The first type of stroke is usually a result of a blood clot in a vessel, which then cuts off blood flow to the brain. The latter type of stroke is caused by the rupture of a blood vessel and bleeding on the brain.
In order to avoid the chances of stoke in your senior years, an active, healthy lifestyle is important. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and chronic stress are all risk factors for stroke.
There are two types of diabetes that affect the global population: type 1 and type 2. In seniors, type 2 diabetes is the most common form. Type 1 diabetes is a little rarer and tends to affect people of a younger age.
Type 2 diabetes is far more common in people over the age of 45. It’s characterized by a resistance to insulin. This means your body cannot successfully process glucose from the foods you eat.
In essence, type 2 diabetes is all about controlling blood sugar levels that are just too high. Uncontrolled diabetes also increases the chances of stroke, heart attack, blindness, and kidney failure.
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes has never been higher amongst seniors, and the global population. It is largely caused by poor nutrition and lack of exercise.
A good way to delay or avoid the onset of diabetes is to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet. Avoid excessive intake of sugar and alcohol, and get regular exercise.
High blood pressure is an extremely common condition that many adults live with on a daily basis. Hypertension is caused by chronically elevated levels of blood pressure that exert excessive force on your artery walls.
Naturally, blood pressure tends to rise as one grows older. But in order to keep your blood pressure in check, you need to keep your overall health in check.
Seniors that are overweight are prone to chronically high levels of blood pressure, resulting in hypertension. A good way to keep levels in check is through diet, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle choices.
- Respiratory Disease
One of the most common respiratory diseases among the elderly is known as COPD — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Basically, this condition reduces airflow to the lungs due to inflammation, and the lining of the lungs becomes very thick. The lungs begin to over-produce mucus, which reduces a person’s ability to breathe.
Unfortunately, COPD cannot be cured. However, it can be well managed and even prevented. The primary cause of COPD is tobacco smoke and industrial pollutants.
This means that smokers are at the greatest risk of developing COPD as they age.
Osteoporosis is characterized by brittle bones that lose their mass as a person grows older. This leads to thin, weakened bones that are prone to fractures and breakage.
Women are far more prone to osteoporosis due to their reduced bone density by nature. A lack of vitamin D, calcium, and several other vitamins lead to this condition. If you suffer from osteopenia – low bone density – you are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis in later life.
In order to delay the onset of this condition, a diet rich in vitamins D, E, calcium, and iron is essential. Regular exercise, including strength training, is good for building and maintaining bone density.
As we age, the DNA and cells in our body begin to change. These changes can be exacerbated by certain lifestyle factors and pollutants over time. This leads to the growth of abnormal cells, often resulting in different kinds of cancers.
The most common forms of cancer in seniors include skin, lung, prostate and bladder cancer, stomach cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
There is no sure-fire way to avoid the onset of cancer. But living a healthy, active, and well-balanced life can slow down the degeneration of cells and DNA in the body.
Choose Your Health and Age Well
When it comes to living a long, healthy life, much of it boils down to choice. You can delay the onset of age-related diseases by choosing your health and making it a priority.
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