Aging Red Flags: What to Look Out For as You Age
The aging process brings about the most unexpected challenges in one’s life. You may notice subtle changes like digestive issues, slight aches and pains, or having less energy than you're used to. Others are more obvious, like changes in the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, urinary system, and others.
Health ailments associated with aging can be brought about for a variety of reasons such as decreased immune function, wear and tear of body tissues, and good old oxidative stress. Let us have a look at the various signs and ailments to look out for while aging:
1. Chronic Illnesses
Most individuals in old age suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, and others. Obesity is also one of the major chronic illnesses which may eventually increase the risk of other ailments. It is important to keep an eye out for these lifestyle diseases as they accelerate aging. You can do this by getting regular checkups and maintaining a healthy BMI.
2. Cognitive Problems
Cognitive health refers to one's ability to remember things, analyze situations, and critically think. With age, cognitive functions tend to decline slowly.
Though this is one of the main problems associated with aging, the risk of cognitive decline is increased with the presence of pre-existing conditions. These may include depression, HIV, smoking, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and others. Dementia has become one of the most common health ailments associated with aging, so be wary of your cognitive abilities.
3. Mental Health Issues
We see mental health issues like depression and anxiety very commonly in elders. This may be because of existing chronic illnesses or deficiencies. So taking care of your chronic diseases may help in managing the symptoms of depression. Circumstances and themes such as abandonment, loneliness, acceptance, and quality of life may also play a factor in your mental health. There are several great resources for those suffering from mental illness. Be sure to reach out and get the help you need.
4. Bone Problems
Bone mass, density, strength, and flexibility decrease rapidly with an increase in age. This may lead to an increase in the risk of bone-related problems such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and others. Having these diseases may cause bone fractures. Bones can also break often due to loss of balance and altered gait in elders. Use the right mobility aids, and have enough calcium and vitamin D (either in your diet or as a supplement) to combat the loss of bone mass.
An improper diet or assessment of dietary needs inevitably leads to malnutrition. Alcohol abuse, depression, socio-economic problems, and diet restrictions may also play a huge role in malnutrition.
Malnutrition is a serious issue among the elderly, as it causes decreased immune function, which may result in an increased susceptibility towards infections. Consult a registered dietician to help you create a meal suitable for your specific needs and lifestyle.
6. Sensory Impairments
You may have noticed that hearing and seeing becomes more and more difficult as the years go by. This is not by accident. An increase in age may give you impaired vision and hearing problems. With the help of hearing aids and sunglasses, one can lead a comfortable life in old age.
7. Bladder Control and Constipation Problems
Loss of bladder control and constipation are the most common health ailments associated with aging. The underlying reasons are many. A few of them may include improper diet, decreased physical activity, substance abuse, chronic illnesses, and others. Seek help from a healthcare professional to assess the cause and prescribe the right medications for you.
All the above ailments are only a drop in the vast ocean of issues one has to deal with in old age. Though it seems to be difficult to maintain quality of life, you can easily achieve it with simple lifestyle modifications, regular check-ups, and nutritional supplements. Elder people should always consult a primary care physician before altering their lifestyle habits, diet, medications, and any other factors.
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