Longer lifespans than ever before have become the standard for American seniors. Currently, individuals who reach the age of 65 can expect to enjoy an average of 19.3 more years of life. Because longer lifespans have become the norm, having the highest possible quality of life is a focus for many seniors. While there are 41% of people over the age of 65 who rate their personal health as very good or excellent, that’s a figure which can still be improved.
Enjoying excellent health over the age of 65 starts with eating a healthy diet and being physically active on a consistent basis. Smokers in this age group can still benefit from quitting, as can individuals who commit to losing weight.
In addition to taking basic steps to live a healthy lifestyle, it’s important for seniors to know about common health problems. By better understanding these risks, seniors can be in the best position to protect themselves.
6 common health problems among seniors:
1. Heart Disease
37% of senior men and 26% of senior women are affected by heart disease. It’s also the leading cause of death for this age group. The best way for seniors to manage risk factors like high cholesterol or blood pressure is to work with their doctor on the right combination of lifestyle changes and medications.
Although cancer is the second leading cause of death for seniors, treatment for many forms of this disease has made significant progress in recent years. The different forms of treatment are generally most effective in early stages of cancer, which is why regular screenings like colonoscopies and mammograms are essential for seniors.
This condition is not a fatal one. But the chronic pain it often causes can directly contribute to a lower quality of life. As the most prevalent health condition seniors face, creating a personalized activity plan with your healthcare provider is the best way to remain as active as possible.
Like arthritis, osteoporosis on its own is not a fatal condition. However, it can reduce mobility and has the potential to create long-term disability in the event of a fall. The National Osteoporosis Foundation expects the number of Americans over the age of 50 who are affected by this condition to increase by 10 million over the next four years. That’s why it’s vital to take preventative measures now like following a diet that’s rich in vitamin D and calcium.
5. Respiratory Disease
Respiratory diseases like COPD claim the lives of more than 125,000 seniors every year. Despite the fact that people often feel powerless towards preventing these chronic conditions, measures like stopping smoking have been proven to help. And for those already living with this type of condition, properly using oxygen, consistently taking prescribed medication and having a lung function test done are all ways to maximize daily quality of life.
6. Falls, Influenza and Pneumonia
Even though these conditions aren’t chronic, they are very real concerns for seniors. You can protect yourself against the most common sources of falls by securing area rugs and adding fall prevention devices to your bathroom. And for flu and pneumonia concerns, you should ask your doctor if an annual flu shot and the pneumonia vaccine are the right choices for you.
By taking the time to discuss these types of health risks with your doctor and committing to proven forms of prevention, you can continue to enjoy everything that goes along with living life to the fullest.