As most know, senior citizens are more susceptible to a number of health risks and these health problems can be more severe as people age, they can even be life-threatening. While some conditions like Anemia are possible to be contracted at all ages, they are more prevalent as age increases. According to the American Society of Hematology, about 10 percent of the older population is anemic.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, anemia causes about 5250 deaths each years. Over 75 percent of those deaths came from Americans aged 65 and over.
Anemia is one specific problem that can have a major effect on senior citizens specifically because of the problems and symptoms that can arise from it. Symptoms for anemia include fatigue, chest pains, shortness of breath and more. These symptoms, accompanied with old age, can cause major problems for senior citizens.
What is Anemia?
Anemia is a condition that disproportionately affects the older generation in which the body does not have enough red blood cells to carry the appropriate amount of oxygen to the body’s tissues. There are a number of forms of anemia, some are temporary while some can be around for a long period of time, each case ranges from mild to severe depending on the specific situation.
Red blood cells are important for the body to function properly. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein, that causes blood to have its red color. The hemoglobin allows the cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to the other parts of the body.
What Causes Anemia?
As mentioned before, Anemia occurs when the body does not have enough red blood cells. This happens when either your body just doesn’t make enough red blood cells, bleeding causes the body to lose to many cells more quickly than they can be replaced, or if the body destroys its own red blood cells causing a deficiency.
Red blood cells are normally produced in the bone marrow and in order for the body to produce them and hemoglobin properly, the body needs an adequate amount of iron, vitamin B-12, folate and other nutrients from food.
Types of Anemia
There is a long list of types of anemia, each has specific causes and treatments.
Iron Deficiency Anemia
According to the Mayo Clinic, this is the most common type of anemia in the world and is normally due to blood loss. As the name suggests, iron deficiency anemia is caused by a shortage of iron in the body. Iron is used by bone marrow to make hemoglobin and without the necessary amount of iron, the body cannot produce enough hemoglobin for the red blood cells.
Vitamin Deficiency Anemia
Like iron, the body needs folate and vitamin B-12 to produce the proper amount of healthy red blood cells. A diet that lacks these vitamins and other nutrients that are instrumental in the production of red blood cells can lead to a vitamin deficiency anemia, also known as pernicious anemia.
Anemia of Chronic Disease
Some diseases such as cancer, HIV, and kidney disease can all interfere with the production of red blood cells in the body. Causing a lack of cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. The best thing to do in these cases of anemia is treat the underlying condition, however, this may be difficult depending on what specific problem is causing the anemia.
Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle Cell is a inherited disease that can be very serious and even deadly. It is caused by a defective form of hemoglobin that forces an abnormal shape which make the blood cells die prematurely. The death of the blood cells results in chronic shortage of the cells.
Aplastic Anemia is a rare but life-threatening form of anemia in which the body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells. Aplastic anemia can be caused by a variety of things including infections, medication, autoimmune diseases and exposure to certain chemicals.
These are just a few of the many forms of anemia.
Anemia is a condition that can be treated, treatment options vary depending on each individual case.
There are a number of treatment options that a doctor may recommend depending on which type of anemia is being cared for. Treatments for anemia can range from taking medical supplements to undergoing medical procedures.
For the best results and the proper diagnosis, it is recommended that you seek out a health care professional if you begin to experience any of the following symptoms:
- Pale or yellow skin
- Shortness of breath
- Cold hands and feet
- Chest pains
- Irregular heartbeat
Some symptoms may be mild at first but as that goes unnoticed the symptoms and the conditions will worsen.
While you can see a doctor about the issue and get a treatment plan in place for the condition, there are also certain preventative measures that can be taken in the first place that can help avoid the problem altogether.
Being sure to eat a vitamin-rich diet can help the body from getting deficiencies that cause anemia. Some foods that have an abundance of the vitamins needed include:
- Iron: meats, beans, dried fruit
- Folate: green peas, peanuts, bread, pasta, rice
- Vitamin B-12: meat, dairy products, soy products
- Vitamin C: citrus, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, melons
Also it may be beneficial to start using multivitamins if you are concerned about not getting the proper amount of vitamins.
Maintaining health and a proper diet is important as we begin to age. This may be more difficult for some senior citizens, especially if they are living alone. If you are looking for a senior living facility for your family member that will support their senior health give Landmark Senior Living a look. It is available today to take you and your loved one for a tour at one of our many affordable communities. Call now for more information!