Even before adults technically become seniors, which may be 60 or 65, a lot of common health issues present themselves and changes become apparent. Physical appearance shows graying hair, loose skin, and wrinkles. But more than looks, older adults face challenges that, along with medical intervention, may be helped by home management.
The elderly, with help from their families and communities, can be comfortable in their later years and look forward to a life with minimum worries if these issues are attended to properly.
It is, therefore, our moral and ethical responsibility to see to it that our aging loved ones receive proper care and support during this time in their lives. It’s also best for us to learn about these health challenges so we can delay their onset and prepare ourselves psychologically and financially if or when that time comes.
With age comes chronic illnesses such as heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Along with promoting healthy habits, these conditions need to be managed by professional health specialists.
But for common health issues that put them at risk, we must learn how to deal with them outside medical boundaries. Knowing about preventive measures helps greatly in giving older adults an enjoyable and enhanced quality of life in their advancing years.
Common Health Issues of Older Adults
Memory loss is most commonly associated with aging. Our brain cells undergo changes that result in a decline in memory. Depression, also common in seniors, is another factor that contributes to memory failure. However, it’s a misconception to think that all older adults who develop memory problems progress to Alzheimer’s or dementia. A doctor’s findings are based on neurological exams and overall mental function.
Here are home remedies for memory loss that isn’t Alzheimer’s or dementia and doesn’t have a significant adverse impact on daily activities:
- Do regular age-appropriate physical exercise
- Maintain a diet that is low-fat, more of fruits and vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids from fish
- Have continuing social interaction and involvement with community activities and other people Promote mental stimulation through reading, computer use, playing games, doing numbers and word games
- Promote mental stimulation through reading, computer use, playing games, doing numbers and word games
In aging, a loss or reduction of balance occurs because bones get weak and muscles lose their flexibility. Other factors that predispose seniors to falls are medicines, such as for chronic illnesses, depression and sleeping aids, arthritis, and dizziness. That’s why falls are prevalent in older adults, leading to injuries, surgery or permanent disability. A senior’s overall health status plays a significant role in the outcome of a fall. Frail elderly people have poor recovery and more debilitating results.
To minimize the risk of losing balance and falling, follow these guides:
- Limit areas for daily needs to one floor to eliminate stair climbing
- Remove home hazards such as an uneven floor, rugs and carpets, toys or other stuff that can cause tripping
- Take Vitamin D supplements and have proper nutrition
- Correct poor vision
- Wear comfortable and proper footwear
- Join tai-chi classes
Data from CDC and WHO show that depression is the most prevalent mental disorder in older adults. Most affected are those with co-occurring illnesses and ones with limited functionality. Other causes are the death of a spouse, a transition to retirement, and loss of social activities. While many cases are seen as a natural reaction to aging and its setbacks, the good news is, depression is easily treatable.
This condition is not the normal feeling of sadness in a reaction to an incident, like a death in the family. It’s more persistent, lasting weeks or months. Some symptoms of depression in elderly people are feelings of hopelessness and/or worthlessness, irritability, loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to bring happiness, loss of appetite, insomnia, and fatigue.
In suicidal cases or severely depressed persons, seek professional help. And, if you’re getting older or living with one, you can help ward off a depressive mood with these tips:
- Give them your time and attention. Listen to them when they talk, in a nonjudgmental way, whether it’s a happy, sad, angry or bitter discourse.
- Be patient, be the shoulder they can cry on, and at the same time, share your own thoughts.
- Help them keep their appointments and take their prescribed medicines regularly.
- Bring them with you when you do the groceries, go shopping, join community affairs or meet with friends. Enjoyable social interaction can perk them up, even if only temporarily, and give them opportunities to talk with other people.
- Give them hope. What makes their life meaningful? It could be their faith in God, their children and grandchildren, memories of their best friends. Talk about these things to them to serve as a reminder that life is still good and worth living.
UI is the uncontrolled leaking of urine. It may happen when you sneeze or cough, or you cannot hold a sudden need to pee, and can’t get to a toilet on time. If you’re out of the house, your concerns are not having a change of dry clothes, plus the accident is awfully embarrassing for you.
Urinary incontinence affects more than half of the aging adult population and is usually caused by weakened or overactive bladder muscles in women and prostate enlargement in men. Other reasons for having persistent UI are underlying illnesses, like Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.
Incontinence should be checked and managed by a doctor. Aside from medical intervention, the following advice can help:
- Wear adult diapers. Choose a leakage-proof product and change immediately after you have peed. This prevents possible urinary infection, skin rash and you won’t smell of urine odor.
- Wear clothing that makes it easy for you to urinate. Avoid jumpsuits that don’t have an opening at the bottom.
- Bring spare clothes in case of accidents, especially if you expect to be out for a longer time.
- Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake and limit liquid intake when out of the house.
- Empty your bladder before going out.