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International Day Of Older Persons 2019: 10 Common Health Concerns For Seniors

The International Day of Older Persons is observed on 1 October every year. Conceived by the United Nations General Assembly on 14 December 1990, the day was first observed on 1 October 1991. The day is observed to raise awareness about the issues affecting the elderly, such as senescence and elder abuse. Also, to appreciate the contributions made by the older people to society.

The International Day of Older Persons is similar to that of National Grandparents Day in the United States and Canada as well as Double Ninth Festival in China and Respect for the Aged Day in Japan. The theme for International Day of Older Persons 2019 is 'The Journey to Age Equality'.

According to studies, the senior population in India has tripled over the ages, with the proportion of Indians aged 60 and older will rise from 7.5 per cent in 2010 to 11.1 per cent in 2025. It is pointed out that, the elderly in India experience a greater burden of ailments such as cardiovascular illness, circulatory diseases, cancers and so on [1] [2] .

We have gathered some of the most common health concern affecting elders and they are as follows.

1. Respiratory disease

Conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can worsen with age. COPD is the third most common cause of death among people aged 65 and older. According to studies, 'about 10 per cent of men and 13 per cent of women are living with asthma, and 10 per cent of men and 11 per cent of women are living with chronic bronchitis or emphysema', globally [3] .

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Having respiratory diseases after the age of 65 increases your risk of developing pneumonia and other related infections. There are various medications available for treating the conditions.

2. Cognitive decline

In India, more than 4 million people are estimated to be suffering from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, making the country third after China and the USA. India's dementia and Alzheimer's burden is forecast to reach almost 7.5 million by the end of 2030 [4] .

Developing memory loss is one of the most common and unavoidable health concern affecting senior citizens. It is critical to understand the early warning signs of the condition as it can help provide early intervention and treatment, which can help in slowing down the cognitive decline and progression of the condition [5] .

3. Heart disease

The leading cause of death among individuals aged over 65, heart diseases affect 37 per cent of men and 26 per cent of women 65 and older. The chronic condition is aggravated by risks such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol which are common in senior citizens. It is imperative to pay attention to the indicators such as the aforementioned and take proper care, which otherwise will results in strokes or heart attacks [6] .

4. Oral health problems

It is not common in every senior individual but oral health issues such as gingivitis can lead to periodontitis - a type of bacterial infection that affects the gums and bones supporting the teeth. As you age, your mouth tends to become dryer and cavities are more difficult to prevent, so regular dental check-ups and proper oral care are critical as it helps prevent the onset of oral health issues in seniors [7] .

How Does Your Oral Health Affect Your Overall Health?

5. Vision or hearing loss

Age-related eye issues like macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma are common in senior individuals [3] . Globally, 43 per cent of individuals suffering from hearing loss is all aged 65 and over.

6. Cancer

After heart diseases, cancer is determined as the leading cause of death in individuals aged 65 and over. As it is almost impossible to prevent the onset of cancer but may be managed by improving your quality of life as a senior and having regular meet-ups with your healthcare provider to be on the safe side [8] . Some types of cancer can be treated if found early through screenings such as colonoscopies, mammograms etc.

7. Diabetes

Studies point out that close to 25 per cent of individuals aged 65 and over are diagnosed with diabetes. Regular check-ups at the doctor can help you identify the condition in its early stage itself through blood tests for blood sugar levels [9] .

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The sooner one realises the onset of the condition, better and more effective the treatment will be.

8. Arthritis

It is a condition in which the muscles around the joints of the body, such as knees, back, wrists, fingers, etc., get inflamed and stiffen, causing pain and restricted movement. This condition is mostly seen in people above the age of 60 and can worsen as they age. Arthritis is one of the most common health concern affecting individuals over 60 [10] .

The condition can affect the quality of life of the senior and it is critical to work with your doctor to develop a personalized activity plan encompassed of other treatments that can improve the condition [9] [11] .

9. Osteoporosis

Similar to arthritis, osteoporosis is also a common health concern reported in older individuals. The condition causes the individual to become less mobile and disabled. Osteoporosis increases the risk of falls and fracture due to the low bone mass [12] .

Osteoporosis In Women: Causes, Risk Factors & Treatment

10. Obesity

Studies reveal that a large percentage of senior citizens are obese, majorly due to the sedentary lifestyle. Likewise, obesity can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It is critical to have an active lifestyle even after reaching 60 [13] .

Apart from these conditions, some of the other common health problems affecting older individuals are depression, influenza and pneumonia and balance issues [14] [15] .

View Article References
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  2. [2] Ong, A. D., Uchino, B. N., & Wethington, E. (2016). Loneliness and health in older adults: A mini-review and synthesis. Gerontology, 62(4), 443-449.
  3. [3] Lenoir-Wijnkoop, I., Gerlier, L., Bresson, J. L., Le Pen, C., & Berdeaux, G. (2015). Public health and budget impact of probiotics on common respiratory tract infections: a modelling study. PLoS One, 10(4), e0122765.
  4. [4] Eshkoor, S. A., Hamid, T. A., Mun, C. Y., & Ng, C. K. (2015). Mild cognitive impairment and its management in older people. Clinical interventions in aging, 10, 687.
  5. [5] Opdebeeck, C., Martyr, A., & Clare, L. (2016). Cognitive reserve and cognitive function in healthy older people: a meta-analysis. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 23(1), 40-60.
  6. [6] Prince, M. J., Wu, F., Guo, Y., Robledo, L. M. G., O'Donnell, M., Sullivan, R., & Yusuf, S. (2015). The burden of disease in older people and implications for health policy and practice. The Lancet, 385(9967), 549-562.
  7. [7] Gil-Montoya, J. A., de Mello, A. L. F., Barrios, R., Gonzalez-Moles, M. A., & Bravo, M. (2015). Oral health in the elderly patient and its impact on general well-being: a nonsystematic review. Clinical interventions in aging, 10, 461.
  8. [8] Yanik, E. L., Katki, H. A., & Engels, E. A. (2016). Cancer risk among the HIV-infected elderly in the United States. AIDS (London, England), 30(10), 1663.
  9. [9] Miller, K. D., Siegel, R. L., Lin, C. C., Mariotto, A. B., Kramer, J. L., Rowland, J. H., ... & Jemal, A. (2016). Cancer treatment and survivorship statistics, 2016. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 66(4), 271-289.
  10. [10] Briggs, A. M., Cross, M. J., Hoy, D. G., Sanchez-Riera, L., Blyth, F. M., Woolf, A. D., & March, L. (2016). Musculoskeletal health conditions represent a global threat to healthy aging: a report for the 2015 World Health Organization world report on ageing and health. The Gerontologist, 56(suppl_2), S243-S255.
  11. [11] Gruneir, A., Markle-Reid, M., Fisher, K., Reimer, H., Ma, X., & Ploeg, J. (2016). Comorbidity burden and health services use in community-living older adults with diabetes mellitus: a retrospective cohort study. Canadian journal of diabetes, 40(1), 35-42.
  12. [12] Stamm, T. A., Pieber, K., Crevenna, R., & Dorner, T. E. (2016). Impairment in the activities of daily living in older adults with and without osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and chronic back pain: a secondary analysis of population-based health survey data. BMC musculoskeletal disorders, 17(1), 139.
  13. [13] Bookman A et al. Family Caregiver Handbook. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology; 2013.
  14. [14] Pincus T. et al. A systematic review of psychological factors as predictors of chronicity/disability in prospective cohorts of low back pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2002;27(5):E109-20.
  15. [15] Song J, Chang RW, Dunlop DD. Population impact of arthritis on disability in older adults. Arthritis Rheum. 2006;55(2):248–55.

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