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A Closer Look at Common Health Issues in Older Adults.

As your aging parents continue to grow older, they may face a variety of health issues – both genetic and environmental – that may affect how they age. Lutheran Life Villages—a leading provider of senior living and care services in Northeast Indiana—identifies some of the health and medical issues that are most commonly associated with aging:

Arthritis

This condition usually affects the musculoskeletal system and involves inflammation of one or more joints – where two or more bones meet. The most common form, Osteoarthritis, is prevalent in people over 60, caused mostly due to normal wear and tear.

Alzheimer’s Disease (including Dementia)

A progressive brain disorder, Alzheimer’s gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, and carry out daily activities. It’s also the leading cause of Dementia, a group of conditions that all gradually destroy brain cells and lead to progressive decline in mental function.

Cancer

Cancer is common among older people, and the risk increases with age. While some cancers are inherited, others are caused by long-term exposure to cancer-causing substances like those in tobacco smoke. Fortunately, when cancer is found early, treatment may be more likely to work.

Congestive Heart Failure 

This condition is not a heart attack, but it is the result of damage to the heart muscle usually caused by a heart attack, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, and more. Symptoms of congestive heart failure include swelling in the legs and ankles, and difficulty breathing.

Depression

Depression among older adults is often caused by the changes that usually come later in life, including retirement, the death of loved ones, increased isolation, and mounting medical problems. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of aging, and there are plenty of resources where seniors can get help.

Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when the body does not produce or properly use insulin – a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. While the cause has yet to be determined, several factors including family history, obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. 

Osteoporosis

A bone disease commonly associated with older adults, Osteoporosis causes bones to be weak and brittle. Furthermore, the decrease in bone mass and density, often leads to an increased risk of fracture in the hip, wrist or spine.  

Parkinson’s Disease 

One of the most common nervous system disorders among older adults, Parkinson’s Disease develops gradually, often starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. While loss of muscle function occurs over time, medications may significantly improve symptoms.

Falls 

Falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. As your parents get older, physical changes and health conditions, as well as the medications used to treat those conditions, may contribute to the likelihood of inadvertent fall.

Medication management

For many older adults, keeping track of their daily medications can be a challenge. Especially when you consider many adults age 65 or older are taking five or more prescription medications on a regular basis. If you’re helping mom manage her medications, you should be able to answer some of the following questions:

  • Are there any side effects to the medications?
  • How many pills do they take each day?
  • What are the names of each medication and why are they taking it?
  • What is the color and shape of each medication?
  • Which medications do they take more than once a day?

To help you manage mom and dad’s medications, you can download a free Know Your Medication Worksheet.

Vision problems

Glaucoma and cataracts are two common vision problems seniors may experience. Glaucoma develops when there is too much fluid pressure inside the eye, which may cause a loss of vision. Cataracts are cloudy areas that cover part of or the entire lens inside the eye.

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