Recognize Common Health Concerns in Seniors Early

WRITTEN BY: Aging Institute
Sunday, June 28th, 2015

As we age, our bodies change and weaken. This comes from a long-life of wear and tear on joints, bones, and muscles. When individuals get into their 60s, most adults share similar fears about aging.

Many minor health conditions can cause annoyances and difficulty doing daily activities. The good news is with caution and care you can manage health concerns and keep up with the things you love.

Elderly Falls

Falls are one of the primary health concerns for seniors. Hip fractures or head injuries from falls can cause serious health problems, as well as hurt your ability to live without some help.

Falls can happen because of changes in balance, strength, or vision. Medications can also cause dizziness, especially when interacting with other prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, or supplements.

The best way to avoid falls is to exercise regularly to keep up your strength and improve balance. Have your doctor review all medications and supplements you are taking, and be sure your vision is checked regularly. To prevent falls around the house, look for tripping hazards, install grab bars in the bathroom, and make sure all stairs have firm railings.

Elderly Vision Problems

Having regular eye exams is important as you grow older, not only to make sure your glasses are up to date, but also to watch for eye disease.

Glaucoma and macular degeneration are the most common age-related eye disorders that cause trouble seeing. The earlier you catch problems, the better chance you have of retaining your vision.

Remember that problems like diabetes and high blood pressure can affect your vision, so managing chronic conditions is also important to your eyes.

Seniors and Dementia

Dementia is a decline in memory and decision making ability. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in the elderly. Memory loss is the first sign of dementia, and the condition worsens over time. How quickly it happens is different for everyone, as is the cause.

Seniors and Incontinence

Leaking urine is a common concern or fear among older adults. It’s embarrassing and feels unclean when it happens, which makes many people feel self-conscious about reporting it. In many cases, incontinence is often a side effect of other disorders such as strokes, Alzheimer’s, or urinary tract infections.

It also happens frequently in women from the pelvic muscles relaxing when sneezing or laughing, causing leaks. The muscles weaken over time from childbirth and aging. Kegel exercises can help strengthen those muscles and reduce incontinence.

Arthritis and Seniors

Osteoarthritis is common in older adults as the cartilage in your joints wears away. Your joints begin to feel stiff and painful, and may even swell.

Exercising, keeping your weight under control, and following a healthy diet are the best ways to manage arthritis. If the pain becomes too much, talk with your doctor about medications and other options.

Proper management of chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease is important to avoiding common health concerns in seniors. Work with your doctor to manage medications, develop an exercise plan, and follow a healthy diet to stay fit and active.

┬╗ Watch our Medical Mondays segment on preventing falls among seniors and find additional senior-related articles.

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Aging Institute

The Aging Institute of UPMC Senior Services and the University of Pittsburgh is a catalyst for change, mobilizing the resources of UPMC and the University to the benefit of older adults, their caregivers, and the community at large. The Aging Institute strives to provide integrated, comprehensive and timely access to a full range of services for senior citizens and all members of the public. Read More