Friday, June 15, 2018

5 Major Health Concerns for Seniors

New population projections from the Census Bureau reveal that older adults will outnumber children for the first time in history by the year 2030. Colloquially referred to as the “silver tsunami,” this explosive demographic shift has many middle-aged adults taking a harder look at how they want to be living in 10 to 15 years; primarily, how they can keep their health on track.

Don’t miss this essential guide to 5 major health concerns for seniors with tips and ideas for improving longevity:

Type II Diabetes
Roughly 25% of seniors develop Type II diabetes. A combination of risk factors including rising rates of obesity and hypertension increase a senior’s chances of developing this dangerous disease. Gone untreated, diabetes can result in vision loss, amputation, and even death.

Type II diabetes results when the body’s cells become resistant to insulin or when the body is no longer able to produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels stable. Doctors recommend that adults exercise regularly and modify their diets to limit added sugars and incorporate more fiber and nutrients with fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. Keeping up with annual exams and fasting blood sugar tests helps to catch early warning signs too so you can take action before it’s too late.

Heart Disease
Alarming new life expectancy reports project that for the third year in a row, life expectancy for the average American adult is falling. This is due in large part to the fact that deaths from heart disease, the number one cause of death in the U.S., did not decline in the past year. Heart disease is primarily a lifestyle disease that results from a cardiovascular system which is compromised by inactivity, poor diet, chronic stress, and unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive drinking.

Preventing heart disease is possible, even if you have put off routine exercise your whole life. Researchers have found that small steps like sitting less, moving more, and consuming more micronutrients and less sugar, salt, fat, and processed food can all play a significant role in lowering risk for developing heart disease.

The Centers for Disease Control are reporting new findings from a 10-year government study that revealed the number of falls adults over 65 experience has risen over 30% since 2007. Millions of seniors visit the emergency room every year due to a fall-related incident, and many end up with serious complications like life-threatening infections and bone fractures that limit their mobility.

In addition to fostering a fall-free environment at home by installing helpful grab bars and railings in key areas, and clearing away clutter from common walkways, experts recommend seniors exercise regularly to improve their strength, coordination, balance, and flexibility. Physical fitness for mobility-impaired seniors is paramount as well and may involve chair exercises, gentle tai chi, and water yoga.

Cognitive Decline
Worried about developing dementia or Alzheimer’s? It’s smart to express at least a little concern about falling prey to one of the fastest growing conditions among seniors. Understanding how and why cognitive decline occurs can go a long way toward helping you fortify your brain against it.

Cognitive decline is most readily understood as the loss or impairment of key brain functions like memory, decision-making, critical thinking, judgment, and problem-solving. While researchers know a good amount about what causes conditions like Alzheimer’s, they’re still not sure why it happens in the first place. They do recommend taking steps to protect brain cells and the communication pathways between them through exercise, learning new skills, interacting with others socially, reading, playing games, and eating brain-boosting foods with Omega-3’s and antioxidants.

Vision or Hearing Loss
Vision and hearing loss don’t just impact your ability to see and hear - they affect your independence and self-reliance and can increase the risk for anxiety and depression too. Vision changes and hearing loss are some of the most common conditions affecting seniors and result most often from age-related changes and degeneration in the body.

Medical experts agree that getting your vision and hearing checked regularly as you age can help pick up on early warning signs so you can take action to either seek treatment or find devices that aid these critical senses.

Other common health concerns for seniors include arthritis, osteoporosis, respiratory disease, catching the flu, pneumonia, and oral health problems. The average American can expect to live until at least their 80’s as advancements in research and medicine continue to offer hope. However, staying on top of your own health and taking steps towards living a healthy lifestyle may be your ultimate weapon in staving off these health conditions that are so common among seniors.

This is a guest blog entry.

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