Common ailments in elders that comes with age
There are many conditions like constipation, digestion, knee issues, itchiness and allergy – all these happens due to variation in their health.
The most common ailments elders face is listed below.
- 1. Poor Eye Vision
- 2. Hearing loss
- 3. Arthritis
- 4. Sleep changes/disorders
- 5. Osteoporosis
- 6. Cardiovascular diseases and stroke
- 7. Diabetes
- 8. Cancer
1. Poor Eye Vision
All humans will face eye sight problem once they reach certain age. Eyes becomes dry and less able to produce tears, retinas become thin and the eye lenses will become less clear and may turn somewhat yellow. Iris stiffens and may be less responsive and elders find it hard to adjust to different light levels. The three most common ailments related to aging eyes are cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
What is cataract? It is nothing but clouding of the lens that creates a very poor eye sight. Generally, cataracts are related to aging. In a patient with the eye disease called glaucoma the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises, if not treated this can lead to vision loss or blindness. Age-related macular degeneration causes no pain but gradually robs an individual of his/her clear, central vision.
2. Hearing loss
We may get upset or angry with our elders for not listening. But we need to understand that hearing loss is one of the common symptom of aging. It can be due to heart condition, stroke, head injury, medications, constant exposure to traffic sounds, TV, tumors or working in manufacturing units where sound is heavy. Effect will be visible as we age. It prevents vital communication with family, friends and public and elders feels isolated. They get frustrated and may undergo depression.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that can cause pain in hands, knees, hips and spine. It is because of wear and tear in the joints. It is hereditary and genetic. Elders who face this problem will lose balance, may fall and should be on pain killer. Some may even undergo hip replacement, knee surgery etc. Life does not go back the way they want – activities will be restricted. Elders who like to live independently may get frustrated and show their anger.
4. Sleep changes/disorders
Insomnia is common amongst people once they turn 50. After elders turn 65 or older – getting up middle night is common or they may sleep fewer hours. They may go to bed little early but will wake up at night. Afternoon nap is common which is needed for the body to rest. They find it difficult to fall asleep. Drinking coffee, tea or smoking kind of habits will wreak havoc on the sleep cycle. Medications will add more misery to their sleep. Sleep deprivation is expected in elders. All these sleep disorders – sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, limb movement disorders can lead to spasm in legs, high blood pressure, heart conditions etc.
This is more common in women than men. Reason is loss of bone mass in women due to estrogen and less calcium. If men live long enough, they too are at risk. Many elders break their bones due to osteoporosis. Studies show that even in Indian population, it is now being realized that, as in the West, osteoporotic fractures are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly. Low vitamin D level and low calcium intake seems to be a major contributing factor to poor bone health and osteoporosis in India. (Indian J. of Medical Research, 2008).
Risk factors for this silent disease include aging, a thin body and small bone frame, a family history of osteoporosis, taking certain medications, and low bone mass. It is considered silent because many times the individual will be unaware of the disease they might have unless they fall and break a bone. It can cause hunched back, lower back pain and pain in spine. The person may get shorter overtime due to collapse of the vertebrae. Individual must learn to manage the disease with nutrition, exercise and medication.
6. Cardiovascular diseases and stroke
Another ailment most elders phase. With age heart finds it difficult to circulate blood through its system. The loss of elasticity, atherosclerosis – fat deposition in arterial walls makes the arteries inflexible and make system work with difficulty. This leads to high blood pressure. This can cause stroke. It may cause temporary or permanent brain damage and loss of bodily function – depending upon the blockage in the brain. People who are smokers, non-vegetarians and who has high cholesterol levels face this problem and risk is more as they aged.
Do you know? Over 30 million people in India diagnosed with diabetes. The blood sugar levels of a person with diabetes are too high. The disease prevents the body from producing any insulin (Type 1); or, the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin (Type 2). Thus, the sugar builds up and stays in the blood instead of being distributed to the cells.
Elders who has this condition has to maintain their nutrition and diet. Frequent urination, eye sight problem, heart disease, nerve pain, frequent wounds, kidney damage – all these are related to diabetes. Good nutrition, healthy weight and being physically active as best as they can are some solutions for this condition.
Various types of cancers are discovered. This disease evokes universal fear when mentioned, and while it strikes people of all ages, adults are more likely to get cancer as they age. People over 50 should have tests on a regular basis to screen for specific cancers: breast cancer cervical and other cancers colorectal cancer mouth and throat cancers prostate cancer and skin cancer.
Talk to oncologist and your family physician – whether treatments are essential and what stage it is? Sometimes, the fear of undergoing pain due to radiation, chemotherapy can cause a person more damage than cancer itself. With age it becomes too hard for elderly person to bear the pain.