Did you know, about 1000 years ago, the average life expectancy of ancient Greece was just 20-35 years? With the advent of modern medicine, technology and science, the life expectancy of humans has since increased to 78.6 years. This sounds great to those of us thinking, ‘Wow, we’ve gotten an addition of at least 30 years of life’, but what does this increased life expectancy really entail?
As humans are now living longer than ever before, they are facing ailments and difficulties, also like never before. Many difficulties arise as people age, often physical impairments, but also mental and emotional disabilities. These struggles of aging only increase as time passes, although they may have warning signs much earlier. It is imperative to watch out for symptoms of diseases that are specifically more dangerous to people above 60.
Your well-being as a senior is of utmost importance to us at Emoha, so we have curated a list of the most common diseases that plague the world of seniors above 60. Learn of the symptoms and risk factors involved in 6 diseases most commonly affecting seniors:
6 Diseases That People Over 60 Are Most Susceptible To – Symptoms & Risk Factors
Arthritis results in the inflammation of joints in the body, resulting in pain that often worsens with time. Leading geriatricians suggest that Arthritis is the primary ailment that most seniors battle with, in fact, the Centre for Disease Control reports that 49.7% of all seniors suffer from Arthritis. There are many different kinds of arthritis, and a medical professional’s diagnosis is needed to confirm its type.
Symptoms of Arthritis
Although symptoms vary depending on the type of Arthritis, some common symptoms include:
– Joint Discomfort (constants or fading)
– Joint Pain
Risk Factors for Arthritis:
While anyone may develop arthritis, some factors make one more susceptible to Arthritis:
– With increasing age, the risk of arthritis also increases. People over the age of 60 are at a much higher risk than others.
– Lifestyle habits like smoking or no physical activity can increase the risk of arthritis.
– Arthritis is commonly found in women, as compared to men, so sex is a contributing factor.
– Being overweight, results in more pressure on the joints, which may cause arthritis.
2. Bowel Cancer
The large intestine, also called the colon, is an important part of the digestive system. Bowel cancer affects the colon or the rectum (the end of the colon), and so is also referred to as colorectal cancer. Bowel cancer may begin as benign (non-cancerous) however they quickly develop into cancerous tumors if left unchecked, due to this seniors above 60 are suggested to get proactive screenings. The CDC reports cancer to be the second most prominent cause of death in seniors above the age of 60.
Symptoms of Bowel Cancer:
The symptoms of bowel cancer vary depending on its size and its location, however, there are some shared symptoms of bowel cancer that one should look out for:
– Change in Bowel routine
– Varying stool consistency
– Blood formation in stool
– Abdominal Pain
Risk Factors for Bowel Cancer:
Bowel cancer may affect anyone, of any age, gender, race or size, however, some factors increase your risk of developing bowel cancer:
– Increased age also results in an increased risk of bowel cancer. Those above 60 are at a much higher risk than others, and they should be frequently screened for such diseases.
– Genetic history of bowel cancer in the family may predispose one to bowel cancer.
– Lifestyle habits like physical inactivity, consuming low fibre diets, smoking and drinking alcohol may increase the risk of cancer.
– Radiation therapy for previously developed cancers in the abdomen, may adversely increase the risk of bowel cancer.
Diabetes is a cluster of multiple diseases resulting due to excessive amounts of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Depending on whether the issue is the way your body processes glucose or the inefficient production of insulin (necessary to break down glucose and digest it) itself by the pancreas, one may categorize it as type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. Research suggests that 25% of American seniors above the age of 65 have some form of diabetes.
Symptoms of Diabetes:
Symptoms of diabetes differ from each other depending on the type of diabetes one may have (type 1 or type 2), however, there are some common symptoms of both:
– Frequent urination (especially at night)
– Increased thirst
– Unexplained loss of weight
– Hunger pangs
– Blurred vision
– Numbness in hands or legs
– Extremely slow healing of injuries or sores
Risk Factors for Diabetes:
As we are not yet aware of the exact cause of type 1 diabetes, its risk factors and preventative measures are also not very concrete. With that said, type 2 diabetes being the most common of the lot, has established prominent risk factors, some are given below:
– History of diabetes in the family can increase the risk of both, type 1 & 2 diabetes.
– Type 1 diabetes is mostly acquired at younger ages, however, those above the age of 60 are at a very high risk of type 2 diabetes.
– Increased weight puts one at a much higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
– Sedentary lifestyle choices and poor diet management increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
– Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) may predispose you to type 2 diabetes.
3. Heart Diseases
Ailments of the heart (such as stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure, cardiac arrest etc) remain the leading cause of death amongst people over the age of 60, according to the CDC’s research. As we age, the advent of risk factors like high BP, stress or cholesterol build-up increases one’s chances of developing heart disease.
Symptoms of Heart Diseases:
The symptoms of heart diseases differ basis which ailment one has. However, there are 3 common symptoms across most categories of heart diseases that are alarming, and require a medical professionals’ attention how are :
– Chest Pain
– Shortness of breath
Risk Factors for Heart Diseases:
Heart diseases may affect just about anyone, but here are some factors that put you at an increased risk of heart ailments:
– Older age means an increased risk of damage to blood vessels and stress on heart muscles.
– It is being noted that the male sex is at a higher risk than females.
– Family history of heart diseases puts one at a very high risk of them too.
– Diet and physical inactivity are contributing factors in the onset of heart diseases.
– Obesity, high BP, and high cholesterol are all factors that affect the heart gravely.
– Poor dental hygiene can result in endocarditis as germs may easily enter the bloodstream if the teeth and gums aren’t healthy.
4. Respiratory Diseases
Respiratory diseases affect the airway and other structures of the lung, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema and the like. Respiratory diseases are considered the 3rd largest cause of death amongst seniors. At least 23% of all seniors suffer from asthma and bronchitis, according to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC). Respiratory distress increases the risk of other health issues that seniors may face, like heart diseases.
Symptoms of Respiratory Diseases:
Since there is a multitude of respiratory diseases that plague people above the age of 60, their symptoms are different and unique to each illness. With that said, there are some common symptoms of respiratory illnesses that are a cause of concern and require attention from a medical professional:
– Persistent cough
– Sudden shortness of breath
– Chest pain
– Blood in saliva or mucous
Risk Factors for Respiratory Diseases:
Many factors contribute to the development of respiratory diseases:
– Smoking increases the risk of seniors developing respiratory illnesses by 50%.
– Old age may decrease lung functioning, and contribute to respiratory distress.
– Air pollution, dust & pollen, irritate the lungs and airways, increasing the further risk of diseases.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease affecting one’s memory and mental processes. It has been reported by the Alzheimer’s Association that 1 in every 9 seniors above the age of 60 suffers from some degree of Alzheimer’s. As one touches the age of 60, their risk of Alzheimer’s increases by almost 28%, however, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is quite difficult so most people are unaware of an early onslaught.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s:
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s differ depending on what stage of Alzheimer’s one has – mild, moderate or severe:
– Memory Loss
– Mood swings
– Agitated behavior
– Sudden cognitive changes like the inability to understand arithmetics
– Sudden behavioural changes like irritability, restlessness etc
Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s:
While the exact cause of Alzheimer’s remains unknown, some factors increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s:
-The most crucial factor is age. It is said that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every 5 years once the age of 65 is crossed.
– Genetic history of Alzheimer’s or Dementia in the family may predispose you to such conditions as well.
– Having Down’s Syndrome may increase your chances of Alzheimer’s as it may cause genetic changes that result in plaque build-up in the brain.
– Factors that contribute to cardiovascular diseases like smoking, excess weight, high blood pressure etc, could also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.
It is important to be aware of the perils of old age, knowledge helps us be prepared in time. Don’t be overwhelmed with if you notice signs of any aforementioned diseases, there are a plethora of treatments and management solutions available at your disposal. Download the Emoha App here, and get all the latest senior-specific information including health, lifestyle or entertainment related.
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Frequently Asked Questions
5 most prominent symptoms of arthritis are:
Pain in the joints
Swelling in the joints
Decreased range of motion for affected joints
Redness around affected area
Stiffness in the joints
Some early signs of bowel cancer are:
Change in bowel movement (diarrhea or constipation)
Bleeding while defecating (blood may be bright red or dark)
Consistent abdominal pain
The stage before one is a confirmed diabetic is called Pre-diabetes, the first signs of prediabetes include:
Sudden weight gain
Heart disease is an umbrella term that covers many heart related ailments but here are the common 4 symptoms:
Shortness of breath
Numbness/pain in arms & legs
Pain in the neck or upper jaw
Although there are many respiratory illnesses, the 5 most abundantly found respiratory illnesses are:
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease