Top Five Health Issues that Concern Seniors Today
- The number one issue that concerns seniors is cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s and early onset dementia are real fears and often create a tension between waiting too long to address and teetering on the edge of paranoia. Early treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia has shown to have positive effects and can alleviate the symptoms affording a higher quality of life. On the other hand, a senior forgetting where they put their keys is not necessarily a reason to call in the experts. (Raise your hand if you haven’t misplaced your keys this year. Anyone?) As many as one in five senior experience cognitive issues not associated with aging. Document behaviors and watch for unusual and recurring events. Consult with a physician for guidance.
- Balance issues can become an issue for anyone over the age of 70. We all struggle with issues of balance for a variety of reasons such as old sports injuries, certain types of medication, inner ear issues, alcohol, etc. The real risk for those over 70 is falling. The chances of suffering a fractured hip, shoulder or a major head injury goes up significantly. Check your home for throw rugs, furniture that needs repair as well assessing whether handrails in the bathroom would be beneficial. Any stairs inside and outside the home should have handrails.
- Issues with oral health. Not all seniors lose their teeth, but issues like gingivitis that leads to periodontitis, a bacterial infection that affects the gums and bones supporting the teeth, can be common in older adults. Seeing the dentist for a cleaning every six months can help ensure your teeth and gums are as healthy as possible.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for adults over the age of 70. It is important to have a dietary and exercise plan. There are dietary plans in just about every publication and on multiple internet sites. Find a plan that looks doable, consult with an expert and be intentional about making the changes necessary to improve quality of life.
- Influenza has long been a concern for older adults. The world’s most recent bout with Covid-19 has increased those fears dramatically. It is important to note that the fear of getting a cold or flu, especially Covid-19, has caused a spike in issues like depression, anxiety and paranoia. Consult with your spiritual care advisor or a mental health counselor if you feel like your ability to function has been compromised. Check with your physician to see what shots you may want to consider getting.
Those are the top five concerns of many older adults, but there are undoubtedly many others. However, it is important to realize that, while our health may decline as we age, we still can enjoy a high quality of life if we remember what truly matters. Life is a gift, and we should strive to use each day to its fullest!