According to a study from Consumer Reports, there are four common health problems that may not can cause major problems when we get older. For example, issues like the flu, heartburn, mood changes, and fall are all issues that may not seem particularly bad when we are younger, however, as we age, the problems can grow become much more problematic.
There are a number of reasons that senior citizens are more susceptible to some problems that did not used to be an issue at a young age. One of the main reasons for this is due to the weakened immune system that many older people deal with. Your immune system is responsible for protecting your body from foreign and harmful substances like bacteria, viruses, toxins, and more.
There are many ways to decrease the risk of immune system aging, most of them revolve around lifestyle changes. For example, getting adequate exercise can help to boost the immune system. Similarly, maintaining a strong, nutrient-rich diet can help strengthen the immune system. Also, limiting alcohol use and quitting smoking is a great way to keep your body healthy.
“The strain that a simple flu puts on an older person’s lungs might be enough to make them susceptible to a life-threatening pneumonia,” said Michael Hochman, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Gehr Family Center for Health Systems Science at Keck Medicine of USC.
In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, between 70 and 90 percent of season flu-related deaths have occured in people 65 years and older. Similarly, between 50 to 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in that age group as well. Influenza is a serious condition for people 65 and older.
The best way for people 65 and older to protect themselves against the flu is to receive a vaccination every six months. The reason that influenza posses a more serious risk for older individuals is because older people can have weaker immune systems that have a lower response after flu vaccinations compared to younger, healthier people. Flu vaccines have been proven to be an effective way to reduce flu illnesses deaths and hospital admissions.
Many people feel occasional heartburn, and for most people, it is not a serious problem. However, the older we get, the more serious these issues can become. Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a common upper gastrointestinal disorder, is a complication that are a common problem for older patients, elderly individuals tend to have fewer symptoms with more severe consequences and complications that can even be life-threatening. However, it should be noted that with proper management, GERD and its associated complications can be treated in a majority of elderly patients.
GERD is a common upper gastrointestinal disorder that many elderly patients encounter. According to one research journal, it is highly prevalent worldwide, affecting up to 20 percent of the western world. It is estimated that GERD affects over 18 million people in the United States.
This gastrointestinal problem can have major effects on the esophagus and can even lead to an significantly higher chance of being affected by esophageal cancer. In general, elderly patients with GERD are at a greater risk than younger patients of developing serious complications from the condition.
From medication to life changes to reduced activity and social isolation, many factors can affect mood. Despite the fact that there is a lower prevalence of severe mood disorders in elderly individuals, late-life depression and bipolar disorders pose a major risk as they are strongly associated with other issues like cognitive deficits, increased risk of suicide, and increased mortality.
It is important to remember that problems like depression are not a normal part of aging and many triggers can lead to this debilitating problem, including the death of a loved one, increased stress, or even retirement from work. While depression may be harder to recognize in older adults as they generally show different symptoms than younger people, there are still noticeable signs. For instance, many older people who are depressed will appear tired, have trouble sleeping, and can seem grumpy and irritable.
Trips and Falls
Each year, millions of older adults in the United States fall. About one in four older people fall each year, but less than half tell their doctors despite the fact that falling once doubles your chances of falling again.
According to the CDC, one in five falls causes a serious injury such as a broken bone or head injury. Specifically, over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury and at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures, 95 percent of which are caused by falling usually by falling sideways. However, these falls can prove to be deadly, something that is not particularly uncommon unfortunately. In 2016, there were almost 30,000 Americans aged 65 and older that died as a result of a fall.
Similarly, in 2015, total medical costs fro falls totaled more than $50 billion.
There are a number of contributing factors that lead to increased likelihood of falls. Some of these factors include:
- Lower body weakness
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Vision problems
- Home hazards
- Use of medicines that can affect balance
As mentioned before, older individuals are more likely to experience serious health problems mostly due to the fact that the immune system in the body is weakened for senior. Some common health problems that can lead to serious issues include the flu, heartburn, mood changes, and falls. Dealing with these issues can be tough, it can be even harder if you or your loved one is living independently. With that said, Landmark Senior Living offers all of our residents access to the medical attention that they need and deserve later in life. Also, we will set up social events and activities for residents to attend to keep them happy and outgoing during their time at Landmark. If you would like more information, please reach out to our admission team today.