The human body functions like an incredibly complex machine and like all machines, over time they wear down and cease to function as they once did. As we grow older, humans are prone to a range of different health risks and illnesses, each varying in severity and seriousness. Whilst a lot of these illness are difficult to prevent, it’s still important to be aware of them so that when caring for the elderly, or when in old age ourselves, we can sympathise and be prepared.
With this in mind here are four of the most common health concerns that begin showing themselves in old age.
More of a daily inconvenience than a direct health risk, bladder dysfunction is an extremely common side effect of old age. Incontinence, specifically urinary incontinence, is the result of weakened muscles around the bladder which result in urine leaking out. The scope of this issue can vary from individual to individual – some people experience no bladder problems in old age at all, others simply find themselves needing to go to the toilet more often, whilst a small portion require incontinence pads due to regular accidental leakage.
Whilst there are medicines and bladder management solutions that can help deal with elderly incontinence, there are few short-term remedies to the issue. It’s important to highlight the problems with a doctor though, just in case.
Dementia and Memory Issues
One of the significantly scarier health issues that the elderly face is the increased risk of dementia and other memory-related issues. Growing old often leads to slightly increased forgetfulness or difficulty remembering things. This is normal and is not a sign of dementia. However, in some cases, old age can lead to dementia which is a much more debilitating case of memory and brain dysfunction.
Dementia is the name given to a range of diseases, most notably Alzheimer’s Disease, which affect the brain’s functionality. In particular, dementia doesn’t just lead to reduced memory, it affects an individual’s ability to live independently on a day-to-day basis. These problems can involve anything from forgetting to wash or get dressed, to have difficulty managing medicines or cooking food safely. In many cases, dedicated institutions assist those with dementia to help them continue living fulfilling lives. Dementia care like that in Tallington focuses on enabling residents to paintain an element of independence, whilst supporting them where they need it most. It can be a very difficult balance to strike but is essential for allowing those struggling with dementia a level of autonomy.
Most doctors are able to conduct memory tests to check for onset or advanced dementia, so it might be worth checking if unsure.
One of the most recognisable health concerns that the elderly face is arthritis. Arthritis is the name given to over 200 different conditions and primarily involves joint inflammation and pain. The illness primarily affects the elderly because it is in older age that our joints become worn down after a lifetime of use; this wearing down then leads to inflammation, damage and pain.
Arthritis can be impacted by a host of different stimuli including infections, genetic make-up and injuries and most commonly affects the knees, hips, hands and feet as these joints see the most use during our lifespan.
Treatment of arthritis usually involves a variety of medication, gentle physical activity and the reduction of further joint damage to ease the pain. As it is a common issue, most doctors have encountered it before and will be able to help.
Finally, it’s important to mention the threat of cataracts. Cataracts are the name given to the natural clouding of our eyes as we age. Over time, the lens of the eye begins to develop a frosting or mistiness which, if left untreated, begins to impair vision and can even lead to blindness.
Cataracts are very common and can affect both eyes simultaneously. Fortunately, as it is so common, we have also developed surgery to help deal with it effectively. Even in cases of blindness, cataract surgery can restore vision for the patient, it’s just important to see a doctor the moment you think there may be an issue.
These health issues are not the only ones that your body may be faced with as you grow old, but they are some of the most important ones to be aware of. Always remember that if you are unsure about some aspect of your health, seeing a doctor is the best course of action to be safe rather than sorry.