As people age, they can sometimes begin to develop certain medical problems. These issues can affect their quality of life and—if left unaddressed—can lead to a loss of independence. Here are some common conditions to look out for.
This condition is extremely common and is found in many people over the age of 65. A person with osteoporosis will lose bone density and strength gradually until the bones become brittle, weak, and susceptible to breaking easily.
Proper nutrition—including calcium and vitamin D—along with regular exercise is key in lessening the impact of this condition.
- Sudden Falls
While falls are not technically a medical condition, they are certainly something that an elderly person and his or her caregivers need to be on the alert for. Falling is one of the primary sources of injury in elderly people, and preventative measures should be taken to reduce the chances of a fall. These measures include reducing tripping hazards and being aware when the elderly person is taking medication which might make him or her dizzy or unstable.
- Dizzy Spells
When an elderly person gets dizzy frequently, it can lead to difficulty walking and an increased chance of falling. There are any number of reasons why an elderly person might start feeling dizzy, and if it happens frequently, you should ensure that he or she consults with a doctor on the matter.
- Difficulty Sleeping
It is not uncommon for a person’s sleep habits to change as he or she ages. While a minor decrease in the amount of sleep needed each night is not usually a cause for concern, you should be alert to any sudden or drastic changes. This includes difficulty falling asleep.
Sleep problems can contribute to the potential for a fall as well as carrying their own health risks. As there are many causes for this condition, any sleep problems should be discussed with a doctor.
An elderly person will frequently eat less than a younger person will. This by itself is not usually a big issue, because the caloric needs of an older person are frequently less than those of a younger person.
However, there is a difference between eating less food and fewer calories as opposed to eating less of certain types of nutrients. Elderly people actually have a greater need for certain nutrients than younger people do. Be on the alert for any changes in weight or a sudden loss of appetite.
- Swallowing Issues
Sometimes elderly people develop a difficulty in swallowing their food. This can result in problems obtaining the right amounts and quality of certain nutrients; it can also lend itself to choking because difficulty in swallowing can result in the food going down the windpipe instead of the esophagus.
- Loss of Bladder Control
Urinary incontinence can have any number of causes, some of them more serious than others. If an elderly person begins to experience issues holding their urine until they can get to a toilet, it could be indicative of a more serious problem. Treatment of the underlying problem will frequently resolve the urinary incontinence issue; this problem is actually highly treatable and can usually be improved when it is treated.
- Hearing Loss
Hearing loss it is one of the most common problems people encounter as they age. While it is not usually tremendously problematic to the overall health of the individual, it can be an annoyance that affects the quality of life. Hearing loss can be treated to an extent, so if an elderly person in your life is struggling with this, make sure that they get treatment.
Old age brings with it a unique set of challenges and potential health hazards. By keeping an eye out for these common problems, you can help to ensure that the elderly person in your life lives a full and happy life with a minimal amount of interruptions or inconveniences.
Health in Aging (Website). A Guide to Geriatric Syndromes: Common and Often Related Medical Conditions in Older Adults. Available at http://www.healthinaging.org/resources/resource:guide-to-geriatric-syndromes-part-i/.