What are some common facts regarding health in seniors?
- As people get older, physiological changes occur in their bodies as a natural part of of the aging process
- Physical changes due to the aging process can occur in every organ and can adversely affect a seniors health and lifestyle.
- Some diseases and conditions become more prominent in the elderly.
- Psycho-social issues can also play a role in physical and mental health of seniors.
- A well balanced diet and regular exercise regiment are strongly linked to better health outcomes in seniors and can reduce the risks of developing diseases
- Routine screening tests and preventive measures are recommended for the elderly
- Important preventive measures at home can improve the safety and health of seniors as they age in place. Some examples are Life Alert devices, Home Safety evaluation, Caregiver Assistance etc
- Geriatrics is a medical specialty dedicated to the care of the elderly. Physicians who have specialized training in this field are known as geriatricians.It is highly recommended to find a good local Geriatrician as their practice is geared to seniors
What changes occur in the body as we age?
Many changes can happen in the body to varying degrees as we age. These changes are not necessarily an underlying disease but they still can be upsetting to the individual. Even though the aging process cannot be stopped, being aware of these changes and creating a healthy lifestyle can reduce their impact on a persons overall health.
Expected bodily changes of aging include change in:
- Skin: With aging,the skin becomes less flexible and thinner. Easy bruising is noticeable, and wrinkles, age spots, and skin tags may become more prominent. Skin may also become more dry and itchy as due to the body’s lack of natural skin oil production.
- Bones, joints, and muscles: Bones will typically lose density and possibly shrink in size making them more susceptible to fractures. Muscles as well shrink in mass and can become somewhat weaker. Joints can suffer from normal wear and tear where the joints can become inflamed, painful.
- Mobility and balance: A person’s mobility and balance can be adversely affected by many age related changes. The bone, joint, and muscle problems listed above coupled with changes in a person’s nervous system are the major contributors to balance problems. Due to this,falls may occur resulting in further damage with wounds and fractures.
- Body shape: As a result of the bone changes due to aging, body stature can become shorter and curvature of the spine may be altered. Increased muscle loss and reduced fat metabolism might also occur. Fat has a tendency to redistribute itself to the abdominal and buttock areas. Therefore,maintaining an ideal body weight becomes increasingly more difficult.
- Teeth and gums: Teeth can become more weak, brittle, and dry as the glands have a tendency to produce less saliva. Gums can also recede from the teeth as well. These changes may result in tooth decay, infections, halitosis, tooth loss, and gum disease. Taking proper care of your teeth can greatly reduce these risks.
- Hair and nail: Hair can become thinner and weaker as a person ages. Dry hair can lead to itching and discomfort. Nails may become brittle and unshapely as well. Nails can also get dry . Toe nail thickening is common as is nail fungal infections. Seeing a podiatrist (either office or mobile) on a regular basis is important.
- Hormones and endocrine glands: Hormonal changes are seen commonly in the elderly. Most common is the hormonal control of blood sugar levels and the metabolism of carbs which can lead to Diabetes. Thyroid dysfunction and problems with fat and cholesterol are also commonly encountered. Calcium and vitamin D metabolism may also become altered.
- Memory: Problems with memory are common in seniors. However, it is important to realize that minor memory issues are quite common and do not mean that a person has Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Lapses of memory such as not remembering where you left a key or whether you locked the door are just a normal part of aging process.
- Immunity: The body’s immune system can get weaker with age. Blood cells that fight infections become less effective which can lead to more frequent infections.
- Hearing: changes in nerves and ear structures can reduce hearing and cause age-related hearing loss.
- Vision: Eyes have a tendency to become drier and the lens can lose its accuracy as people age. A person’s vision can be affected by these changes and can become blurry and out of focus. Glasses or contact lenses usually can help correct these problems.
- Taste and smell: Sense of smell and sense of taste may diminish leading to poor appetite thus resulting in weight loss.
- Bowel and bladder: Bowel and bladder control can cause problems with incontinence. Additionally, bowel and bladder habit can change as well. Constipation is common in older adults, as are urinary frequency and difficulty initiating urine. Having a proper amount of dietary fiber is quite important.
- Sleep: A person’s sleep patterns can significantly change with age. Duration of sleep, quality of sleep, and frequent night time awakening are commonly seen in seniors.
These changes are different in every individual. Some people may experience more changes in a particular area compared to others.
Taking the proper measures and precautions is highly recommended.