General Problems of Elderly and How We Can Help Them?

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Common Health Problems seen in older people

Aging is the natural process of our life and everyone in the world is going to get old. We all one day will have wrinkles and fine lines and that’s the reality because it’s all about the human body and nature. Aging is one of the major causes of health disorders. Through this article, we are going to discuss health problems seen in elderly people and some tips on how you can help them.

General Problems of Elderly

Common Health Problems Seen in Older People

Aging results in both psychological and physiological problems and it is important to understand the medical conditions faced by old age people. Furthermore, let’s discuss the medical condition, symptoms, and healthy tips:-

Bones, Muscles, and Joints

1. Arthritis

It is one of the common conditions faced by elderly people and almost 10 million alone are affected with Arthritis. It results in causing inflammation of the joint and pain which restricts their movement.

There are two types of arthritis that are Rheumatoid arthritis and Osteoarthritis. One of the commonly seen types is osteoarthritis. This causes the wear and tear of the ligaments present in the knees because as we get older the joints have been used more.

Symptoms

  • Pain in joints
  • Stiffness
  • Tenderness
  • Restrict movement of the joints
  • Inflammation around the joints

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for arthritis. They are effective pain killers that help in relieving the symptoms but not curing the disease. The risk of falls also increases in a patient with arthritis.

2. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is one of the most common medical conditions seen in old age people. This condition is developed slowly and sometimes left undiagnosed until a fall has caused the bone fracture. It is because this condition causes the bones to get weak and they lose their muscle mass which is a natural process of aging.

3. Osteomalacia

It occurs due to deficiency of Vitamin D which results in softening of bones. This is one of the common causes of fractures in old age people. This results in difficulty in walking and also causes a waddling gait.

Healthy Tips

Consume foods like milk, yogurt, beans, lentils, almonds, etc that are rich in calcium.

  • Include Vitamin D-rich foods such as egg yolks, mushrooms, orange juice, oatmeal in the diet.
  • Avoid smoking tobacco as it is also responsible for causing decreasing bone density.
  • Do not drink alcohol as it will only speed up the loss of bones.
  • Try to maintain a healthy weight muscle-strengthening exercise like doing the elastic band.
  • Play games like skipping or playing tennis that will help in building the bones stronger.

Lungs

Breathing problems are very common in old age people because the functioning of the lungs declines as you age. It starts to lose its density which also affects the ribs and also the muscle present in the respiratory system starts to weaken. This causes difficulty in the expansion of rib cages and the air sacs can also become saggy as well. The defense mechanism of the lungs is also decreased resulting in lung problems including:-

1. Asthma

It occurs when the airways of the body become allergic to a specific type of thing and this results in inflammation. This inflammation results in a frightening and painful asthma attack causing the muscles of the airways to get narrow and tighter making them harder to breathe. Most people are able to manage it through medications but it is sometimes fatal to older people.

Symptoms

  • Breathlessness
  • A sensation of tightness around the chest
  • Severe coughing

Older people are much more at risk of developing asthma which is especially noted during the months of winter.

2. Chronic Bronchitis

It is the condition that affects the airways and lungs and these severe lung conditions is Chronic Obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Most of these cases are developed by the infection caused in the airways which results in the overproduction of the mucus.

Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Runny nose
  • Weakness
  • Pain in the chest
  • Sore throat

3. Pneumonia

It is the condition where the tiny sacs present in the lungs known as alveoli starts to get inflamed due to infection. According to the studies over 1 million adults over the age of 65 are hospitalized for pneumonia. The main reason is the weakened immunity seen in elderly people.

Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough with phlegm
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion

Healthy Tips

  • Say no to smoking as it is one of the primary causes of lung infections.
  • Stay away from harmful chemicals like smoke from vehicles, which is very important to decrease breathing problems.
  • Prevent yourself from an infection like avoid going into a crowded area in the season when you are more prone to flu or cold.
  • Do breathing exercises or yoga-like cobra pose, lotus shoulder stand, crossed leg sitting, etc which will help you in improving the health of lungs.
  • Drink green tea or turmeric tea to avoid lung infection.

Blood Vessels

The blood present in the body itself changes slightly as we age. Aging results in a reduction of the body water, so there is less fluid in the bloodstream which causes a decrease in blood volume. There are common problems faced by us as we age including:-

1. Hypertension

It is commonly known as high blood pressure and most people don’t even realize that they are suffering from hypertension. The common symptoms noted in hypertensive patients are chest pain, anxiety, irregular heartbeats, and headaches. This health condition puts a strain on the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other vital organs. This can result in health conditions like:-

  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney disease
  • Strokes
  • Vascular dementia

2. High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is basically a fatty substance produced by the liver and is also found in some food items. Lipoprotein is found in the blood which helps in carrying cholesterol around the body. Their types of lipoproteins include high density and low density also called bad and good cholesterol. Good cholesterol is referred to as high-density lipoprotein and bad cholesterol is low-density lipoprotein. There are a number of changes in lifestyle responsible for causing high cholesterol and this includes:-

  • Eating unhealthy diet
  • Smoking
  • Family history with heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes

As age increases, the chances of developing high cholesterol increases making the arteries narrow.

3. Deep Vein Thrombosis

It is the condition where the blood clot is formed into the deep veins mostly seen in the legs. This is mostly seen in patients after the age of 40, this can also result in other health complications including pulmonary thrombosis.

These are severe factors that are responsible for increasing the risk of deep vein thrombosis like blood vessel damage, obesity, being inactive for a longer period of time, or having a history of blood clots.

Symptoms

  • Pain, tenderness, and swelling in the legs.
  • Extreme pain in the affected area.

4. Varicose Veins

It is the condition that results in swelling, enlargement, and twisting of blood vessels that you can easily see under the skin. They are bluish red in color and mostly affect the lower limbs but can also occur in other parts. Older people are mostly seen with this problem and especially women after menopause.

5. Atherosclerosis

It causes hardening of the arteries which is mostly seen in people who suffer from high cholesterol and the substances to start to accumulate in the walls of the artery and is known as plaques. This plaque narrows or blocks the artery and aging is one of the causes of this.

Healthy Tips

  • Maintaining a healthy diet is an important way to avoid the risk of blood vessel problems. This includes:-
  • Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Including whole grain in daily routine.
  • Consume fish, meat, and poultry.
  • Low-fat dairy products are much better.
  • Avoid taking stress because it may give rise to high blood pressure.
  • Quit smoking

Systemic Disease

1. Diabetes

It is a lifetime condition where the body is not able to produce enough insulin in the body. This is because the pancreas is not working properly. Type 2 diabetes is one of the major and growing problems seen in elderly people. In fact, there is a study that determines that 10 percent of people over the age of 40 are living with this health issue. Here are some tips to prevent yourself from this health problem:

  • Eat healthy food and increase the intake of fibers in the diet.
  • Reduce the intake of sugar and fried food foods.
  • Do aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises daily.

Heart

1. Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in elderly people. In this disease, the fatty material starts to get accumulated into the arteries and this blocks the supply of blood into the heart. The people that fall at risk are Smoking, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and blood pressure. The main symptoms of CHD are angina, heart attacks, and also heart failure.

In order to reduce the risk, one should make changes in the lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet, regular exercise, and also avoid smoking.

Kidney

1. Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic Kidney disease is very common among elderly people and several other conditions are responsible for developing Chronic Kidney disease. This includes conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney inflammation, and kidney infection. Unfortunately, the symptoms found at early stages are very rare, and common symptoms seen are:

  • Feeling sick
  • Passing blood in the urine
  • Swelling in feet, ankles, and hands
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • There is no cure for this disorder but changes in lifestyle may help.

Healthy Tips

  • Maintain a healthy weight and diet as well.
  • Reduce the intake of sodium-rich foods like processed meats.
  • Consume low sodium vegetables like blueberries, cauliflower, whole grains, and more.
  • Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day.

Eyes

There are many changes in vision as we age and we may also need help in seeing the objects that are closer to us. It is difficult to see in low light conditions and here are some come eye problems seen as we age: –

1. Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The macula is a small proportion present in the centre of the retina and they contain millions of nerve cells. These nerve cells are sensitive to light. As the retina is useful in forming a detailed vision like recognizing a person or reading a book. Age-related macular degeneration is basically characterized by the loss of nerve cells making the vision blurry. This can also cause complete blindness.

2. Cataracts

A cataract is basically cloudy and is formed in the eyes. The lens present in our eyes is basically a camera lens that helps us to see. In a Cataract patient, the light is not passed through the lens to the retina making the vision blurry. This condition grows slowly and causes no pain but is responsible for altering the eyesight. If this cloudy material becomes thick it may also put an impact on the vision.

3. Glaucoma

It is the condition where the pressure is increased on the eyes and this may also cause permanent loss of vision. The risk factors for glaucoma are old age, hereditary, diabetes, and other health conditions.

4. Blindness

The leading cause for the age-related problem is muscular degeneration that causes blindness and over 600,000 people are affected by this problem. It occurs when some material starts to accumulate in the macula. It is also caused by the development of abnormal blood vessels under the macula.

Healthy Tips

  • Eat a diet that is rich in nutrients like Vitamin A, C along with antioxidants as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Include leafy green vegetables and salmon fish in the daily diet.
  • Improve the circulation of the body by performing a daily exercise that will help in improving the oxygen levels in the eyes and removing toxins from it.
  • Wear glasses to save your eyes from Ultraviolet rays.
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep and relax.

Brain and Nervous System

Increasing age results in a decrease of nerve cells which is natural and is one of the main reasons for memory problems in elderly people. There are various nerve disorders seen in old age people including:-

1. Stroke

It is a life-threatening disorder where the person needs special attention. A stroke occurs when the brain is not able to get its supply of blood and this affects the brain cells. These cells start to die which is very commonly seen in elderly people. It is very important to notice the signs and symptoms.

2. Parkinson’s Disease

It is a chronic and progressive condition that causes damage to the parts of the brain and 1 in every 500 people elderly people are seen with this disease. The main cause for Parkinson’s disorder is the loss of brain cells known as substantia nigra. Most symptoms noted are:-

  • Involuntary movements of the particular part of the body.
  • Movement becomes slow
  • Stiffness of the muscles.

3. Multiple Sclerosis

It is a neurological condition that mainly affects the spinal cord and brain. The immune system is one of the main reasons for this disease where they start to affect the myelin sheath. 1 in every 600 old age person is affected with multiple sclerosis.

Common Symptoms seen are

  • Stiffness of muscles
  • Disturbed Gait.
  • Fatigue
  • Balancing problem
  • Vision becomes blurry

4. Dementia

It is a progressive disorder that mostly affects memory and brain function. It is prevalent in older people as 1 in every 14 people over the age of 65 years is affected by the disease. One of the most known forms of Dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. The common symptoms noted in this disease are:-

  • Loss of memory and not able to remember events
  • Struggling to find correct words while speaking
  • Forgetting time and places

5. Alzheimer’s

It is a progressive neurological disorder causing the brain to shrink and the cells present in the brain start to die. Over 85% of the population over the age of 75 suffers from this disease. The common sign seen in Alzheimer’s patient are:-

  • Forgetting conversation or getting lost in familiar places.
  • Difficulty in conversation and not able to think.
  • Not able to recognize family members.
  • Depression
  • Mood swings

Healthy Tips

  • Engage yourself with cardiovascular exercise and increase the blood flow to the brain.
  • Use your brain by solving puzzles or reading books
  • Try communicating with people.
  • Include healthy foods and vegetables in the diet.
  • Avoid smoking at any cost.
  • Get enough sleep

Ears

1. Presbycusis

It is an age-related hearing loss that gradually increases as you get older. It occurs due to changes in the auditory nerves and inner ear. This makes them sensitive to louder sounds and to hear what the other person is saying. Both the ears are equally affected by this disorder.

2. Tinnitus

It is also very commonly seen in elderly people and typically causes ringing in the ears. This may also result in a hissing, clicking, and buzzing in the ear. It is one of the first signs of loss of hearing and people with medical conditions like blood pressure, allergies are at risk.

Digestive Problem

1. Dysphagia

It is very common in older individuals. There are few factors responsible for dysphagia including reduced production of saliva, degeneration of muscles and nerves. All this causes impairment in the process of swallowing.

2. Dyspepsia

Over 20-45% of the population is affected by this disease mostly old adults. This causes nausea, belching, bloating, fullness and indigestion.

3. Constipation

The prevalence of constipation has increased in elderly people as the muscles present in the gastrointestinal tract becomes weak.

Healthy Tips

  • Eat fiber-rich foods and avoid eating fleshy food
  • Avoid carbonated drinks.
  • Include more green vegetables in the diet.
  • Drink an adequate amount of water.
  • Do not eat heavy foods.
  • Avoid fried and oily foods.
  • Avoid drinking chai or tea and consuming milk products.

Some Tips for People who have an Elderly one in their Family

  • Communicate with them and make them feel that they are not lonely.
  • Check their health from time to time and provide the medical attention they need.
  • Make them feel happy and take them on a tour.
  • Make foods that are healthy like make them healthy smoothies or homemade foods.
  • Make sure that they do not eat foods that are harmful to them like eating too much sugar.
  • If everyone in the family is working and no one is able to stay with them, then keep a pet in the house. It is also known as pet therapy and this will also help in decreasing the blood pressure.
  • Tell them how much you love them and how they are important to you. It is also one of the ways to make them feel loved.

Conclusion

All the above-given information describes the problem faced by old age people. Aging is a normal process and there is no fear, we just need to be strong. Instead of sitting and getting depressed one should take care of their health and some healthy tips as mentioned above will help one to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

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