According to the CDC, 41% of adults age 65 and older report that they are in good or excellent health. This is good news, considering average life expectancy is on the rise, with many of those 65-year-olds living to celebrate birthdays beyond the age of 80.
That said, planning for a healthy future in your later years is as important as planning for your financial future. Seniors often face a variety of health conditions that can affect their overall quality of life. By learning about what the top 10 health concerns for seniors are, you can make some adjustments to your lifestyle that can allow you to age as healthy as possible.
Top 10 Senior Health Concerns
Your family history, age and lifestyle play a large role in your risk for certain medical conditions. However, a large number of health concerns for seniors can be prevented or the progression slowed by making smart, healthy choices and visiting your doctor for regular screening.
Some of the most common health problems in the elderly include:
- Cognitive decline. While some memory loss is common as you age, developing Alzheimer’s disease is not. It’s important to recognize the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s, as early intervention and treatment can be key in slowing the progression of the disease. As many as one in five seniors experience mental health issues not associated with aging.
- Balance issues. Falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults, and maintaining your balance and mobility is key in fall prevention.
- Oral health problems. Not all seniors lose their teeth, but issues like gingivitis that leads to periodontitis, a bacterial infection that affects the gums and bones supporting the teeth, can be common in older adults. Proper oral care and seeing the dentist for a cleaning every six months can help ensure your teeth and gums are as healthy as possible.
- Heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for adults over the age of 65. Conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol need to be managed properly and taking good care of your heart are vital to avoid developing heart disease in your later years.
- Osteoarthritis or osteoporosis. The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that around 54 million adults over age 50 have low bone mass or osteoporosis, and almost all adults over age 80 have some form of osteoarthritis. Exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet can help protect your bones and joints.
- Respiratory diseases. Conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can worsen the older you become. However, there are variety of medications available that allow you to breathe easier.
- It’s estimated that 25 percent of adults age 65 and older have type 2 diabetes. The sooner you know you are at risk or have diabetes, the sooner you can begin managing your blood sugar and making lifestyle changes that can better control it.
- Influenza or pneumonia. Infections like the flu or pneumonia aren’t specifically senior illnesses, however, seniors are more vulnerable to them and due to weakened immune systems, may be less likely to successfully recover from them.
- Vision or hearing loss. Maintaining regular screenings for your vision and hearing is vital as you age. Age-related eye issues like macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma affect millions of older adults, and 43 percent of people who experience hearing loss are 65 or older.
- The risk for some types of cancer also increases as you age. For example, women become more at risk for cervical or endometrial cancers, while men have a higher risk for prostate cancer. While preventing cancer altogether may not be possible, screenings to detect certain cancers in the early stages can help effectively treat them.