Senior citizens are prone to these 15 illnesses

With seniors accounting for 12 per cent of the world’s population­–and rapidly increasing to over 22 per cent worldwide by 2050 - it’s important to understand the challenges faced by people as they age. Having a healthy lifestyle can help them deal with normal ageing changes

Senior citizens are prone to these 15 illnesses

Fundamental truths:

  • Exercising, eating nutritious food and relaxing will help old age be disease free.
  • Having a body mass index less than 25 will lower the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Healthy elders often experience a decline in:

  • Visual and verbal memory
  • Immediate memory, like the ability to name objects
  • Hearing and vision
  • Bodily strength
  • Appetite and energy level

Chronic conditions that may affect elder health

Arthritis: Chronic pain and lower quality of life

Diabetes: Estimates that 25 per cent of people ages 65 and older are living with diabetes, often leading to chronic kidney problems.

Osteoporosis: Can contribute to becoming less mobile and potentially disabled

Heart disease is the leading killer of adults over age 65

Cancer is the second leading cause of death among people over age 65

Sarcopenia: Muscle mass and strength decrease with age making one prone to falls and chest infections

Alzheimer’s disease: One in nine people age 65 and older are prone to get Alzheimer’s

Respiratory disease: Chronic lower respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are the third most common cause of death among people 65 and older

Influenza and pneumonia: Though not chronic, these infections are among the top eight causes of death in people over age 65 (Seniors are more vulnerable to these diseases and less able to fight them off. Senior healthcare recommendations include getting an annual flu shot, and getting the pneumonia vaccine as recommended by the doctor, to prevent these infections and their life-threatening complications.)

Falls: Most falls occur in the home, where tripping hazards include area rugs and slippery bathroom floors, outside falls are usually at the kerbs

Substance Abuse: Prescription medicine abuse (painkillers and sleeping tablets), tobacco and alcohol

Obesity: An important senior health risk factor for chronic conditions that impact quality of life like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Depression: A threat to senior health, depression can also lower immunity

Oral health: 25 per cent of adults over 65 have lost their natural teeth.

Herpes Zoster: Chicken pox as a child can come back as shingles in a senior adult. There is a vaccine available to prevent it.

Therefore, if wellness is at the centre of the daily health of elders, they must learn to age actively.

That means to continue to participate in social, economic, cultural, spiritual, and civic affairs not just to be physically active.

They must realise their potential throughout the life course and act on it.

They should help the authorities to build age friendly cities through organisations or groups.

The author is the founder and president of Dilasa NGO.