Friday, 6 April 2012
Common diseases in old age
According to the UN, the population of elderly persons is the fastest growing around the world and the number of elderly people by 2050 will be close to 2 billion.
The World Health Organisation has taken the initiative to draw attention to ageing as this imposes many challenges for individuals and authorities, like coping with health care, employment, housing, social security and other issues concerning the elderly.
Aging is an inevitable process and many factors like genes, lifestyles, diet and environment determine longevity. Though life expectancy has increased in modern times thanks to advances in science, technology and medicine, the grinds of daily life take a heavy toll on our bodies.
For most of us, taking care of our health is the last thing on our mind as we are too busy. Eventually negligence takes its toll on our body and manifests itself through a serious illness or in rapid physical deterioration in old age.
As humans grow older, physical conditions decline which lead to many illnesses and ailments. Some of the common health problems affecting the aged are:
Senior persons are usually beset with eye problems such as cataract, age-related macular degeneration, etc. Cataract develops in the crystalline lens of the eye, obstructing the passage of light. It can be corrected through surgery or topical treatment.
AMD is caused by damage to the retina due to abnormal blood vessel growth or breakdown of light-sensitive cells.
Alzheimer's Disease is an incurable and degenerative disease and is mostly diagnosed in people over the age of 65 years. It is the most common form of dementia with nearly 3 million sufferers worldwide. Alzheimer’s greatly affects a patient’s emotional, mental and behavioral abilities.
Elderly persons are susceptible to depression due to changes in their lifestyles, loss of loved ones, isolation, etc. It can lead to memory impairment, fatigue, lethargy, and other physical problems.
Heart disease is caused by disorders of the heart and blood vessels. It is the biggest cause of death worldwide. Around 87% of coronary heart disease deaths are found among 60 years and older. It includes raised blood pressure, coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral artery disease, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease and heart failure.
Bones and joints diseases
Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bone mineral density (BMD) is reduced and can lead to an increased risk of fracture. It can occur due to lack of vitamin D, calcium, physical activity, hormonal changes or diseases such as hypothyroidism, hyperparathyroidism.
Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints. There are more than 100 types of arthritis of which Osteoarthritis is the most common. It is a degenerative and chronic condition ranging from very mild to very severe.
It is a common disease for male seniors in which the prostrate gland becomes enlarged with age. This causes urination problems like frequent, weak, interrupted flows, etc. It can lead to conditions such as urinary tract infections, kidney or bladder damage, incontinence, and acute urinary retention.
Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce or respond to insulin. It is incurable but can be controlled through changes in diet, lifestyle ad medication.
Cancer is a term for a group of more than a hundred diseases involving unregulated cell growth. Though cancer can affect all age groups, cancers of the prostrate, colon and breast are the most common among the elderly.