Aging And Your Health Series: Common Illnesses
It’s no secret that as we age, we become more at risk of developing certain diseases and disorders. This is partially because our immune system becomes weaker, and also because there are simply some health issues which are directly related to old age. If you have lived a healthy life prior to aging, you will be less susceptible to subsequent conditions.
There are also things you can do during your old age to maintain your good health. Eating well, cutting down on alcohol and smoking, exercising and keep your mind active are all vital components when it comes to aging. Unfortunately, however, there are just some conditions that can affect you no matter what precautions you take. It is important to be aware of these conditions, how they can affect you and your family, and what course of action you should take.
Dementia is probably the most feared age-related disease of all, even though it is not a physical disease. It is essentially a progressive brain-related disorder, which affects your memory. It can also affect your ability to comprehend certain things and exercise thought and reason.
At its worst, it can sometimes leave the sufferer in an almost childlike state. Contrary to popular opinion, dementia is not actually a disease in itself. Instead, it is an umbrella term for a group of mentally progressive memory disorders. The most well-known type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, but there are other rarer cases too.
Dementia with Lewy bodies is a type of dementia where the sufferer experiences hallucinations. Vascular dementia is a strain of the condition where it is induced following a stroke or a mini-stroke. But it is estimated that 5 million Americans aged 65 and over suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, making it the most common form of dementia. If you suspect that you or someone you know might have Alzheimer’s, look out for the following signs.
The sufferer may have difficulty recalling recent events, and may find it hard to keep up with group conversation. They may also experience significant mood swings, and could feel confused even if they are in a familiar place. At the first sign of dementia, it is vital to visit your doctor, as the earlier it is caught, the easier it will be to manage. If you are caring for a relative with dementia, consider joining a support group to help relieve some of the pressure on yourself.
It is still relatively unknown why ageing increases your risk of getting cancer – but more and more older people are diagnosed each year. In fact, around a quarter of all new cancer diagnoses are made to people over the age of 65. Of course, cancer can still occur at any age. But, certain types of the disease are more prevalent as you age. For example, prostate cancer is generally more commonly diagnosed in older men.
More complex kinds of cancer are also typically found in older people. An example of this is liposarcoma, an aggressive form of cancer that is related to soft tissue. It is important to catch these kinds of cancer early on, even though they can be symptomless for quite a while.
If you have been diagnosed with liposarcoma, find out at DrAllison.org/liposarcomas/ what your next steps can be. Facing cancer can be a difficult and stressful time, so make sure you have a strong support network around you. Consider joining a local support group so you can discuss the ups and downs of life with cancer with people who are going through the same thing.
Many people consider arthritis as merely a side-effect of getting older – related to tired bones and ‘wear and tear’. It tends to affect around 80% of people over the age of fifty.
But in reality, it is actually not a normal part of ageing and requires special treatment to prevent it from worsening. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage that surrounds the joints undergoes a change. Cartilage is directly linked to how the joint works and enables it to move around freely, so any damage here can have a knock-on effect to the joint. In its worse cases, the cartilage can actually break away from the bone, leaving it exposed. This can result in the bones rubbing against each other, which is exceptionally painful for the sufferer.
Arthritis can affect any part of the body, but is most commonly found in knees, hips, hands, and the lower back. If you are having pain in your joints that you think could be arthritis, schedule a visit to your doctor as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis, but there are things you can do to make your condition more manageable. Taking prescribed painkillers can enable you to complete everyday tasks with more ease.
Exercise is also a huge part of arthritis management. Although it may be tempting just to lie on the couch when you are in pain, getting up and moving could actually help you. Just make sure you are undertaking low-impact exercise, such as swimming, which won’t put too much pressure on your joints.
Suffering a stroke can be very serious, as it is the third most common cause of death after cancer and heart disease. It is typically more common in aging people because of the way in develops. Strokes are normally caused by a blood clot (85% of strokes happen this way), which are more common in older people because of high blood pressure. These types of strokes are known as ischaemic strokes and require immediate medical attention.
If someone you know is at risk of having a stroke, you will need to be aware of the warning signs. When someone has a stroke, one side of their face may begin to droop and they will have trouble raising their arms. They also may not be able to speak without slurring. If any of these things happen, it is vital that you call an ambulance immediately. Strokes are generally treated with medication that reduces blood clots and cholesterol levels. You can reduce your chances of having a stroke yourself by monitoring your weight, stopping smoking and exercising.
There are specific health issues to look out for in Aging. These are but a few of the common issues to be careful of.