Americans are living longer and in better health than ever before. In fact, the number of people age 65 and older has increased tenfold over the last century. Along with a longer average lifespan (85.5 for women and 83 for men) comes a unique set of health concerns specific to seniors.
While people of all ages can benefit from healthy lifestyle choices, it’s especially important for those 65 and older to eat a balanced diet, engage in physical activity, quit smoking, and maintain a healthy weight. After all, the goal isn’t only to live the longest life possible – you want to enjoy the quality of your golden years, too.
To do this, it’s important to be aware of common health concerns that pose a greater risk as you age and work with your healthcare team to manage them.
An estimated 49.7 percent of adults over 65 suffer from arthritis, which causes pain and stiffness in the joints. The symptoms of arthritis discourage many seniors from being active – an important part of staying healthy as you age. Work with your doctor to develop a personalized plan of gentle activities to manage pain and reap the benefits of exercise.
2. Heart disease
Heart disease is a chronic condition that develops in 37 percent of men and 26 percent of women 65 and older. Risk factors including high blood pressure and high cholesterol increase the chance of a stroke or heart attack. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can prevent heart disease and improve your health across the board.
3. Influenza and pneumonia
Around the age of 65, your immune system begins to weaken, putting you at risk for common illnesses like the flu and pneumonia. You can protect yourself from these afflictions by eating healthy, exercising, and getting the influenza vaccination every year. Talk to your doctor about receiving a vaccine for pneumonia and how often you should get one.
4. Cognitive health issues
Roughly one in five Americans over 60 suffers from a neurological disorder, and about 11 percent of people over 65 have Alzheimer’s disease. You can prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia through nurturing the six pillars of brain health: regular exercise, social engagement, healthy diet, mental stimulation, quality sleep, and stress management.
According to the American Diabetes Association, one in four people over the age of 60 has diabetes. As you get older, the challenges associated with the disease get a bit more difficult to manage, but your healthcare team can help. Be sure to stay on top of your annual wellness visits for blood tests, and follow recommended lifestyle changes to improve your long-term health.
Your bones grow more slowly as you age, making them more susceptible to breaking. Roughly 25 percent of men and 50 percent of women over the age of 50 will suffer a bone fracture related to osteoporosis in his or her lifetime. You can reduce your risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures by eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, maintaining an active lifestyle, and quitting smoking.
According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in seniors. In fact, one in four Americans 65 and older falls each year. After a fall, it’s important not only to receive treatment for any injuries, but also to participate in a physical therapy program that focuses on balance re-training, like the one at Bella Vista Health Center.
8. Respiratory illness
Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and emphysema are among the leading causes of death in older Americans. These diseases can compromise your immune system, making you susceptible infections like pneumonia. A pulmonary rehabilitation program that offers breathing strategies and emotional support can increase the quality of life for seniors with a respiratory illness.
27 percent of adults aged 65 and older have a BMI of 30 or higher. It’s widely known that obesity contributes to a number of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Obesity can also affect cognition, especially as a person ages. Seniors should watch for weight gain and talk to their doctors about establishing a program of healthy eating and exercise to lose excess weight.
10. Eyesight issues
Just as age impacts your bone density and immune system, getting older also affects your vision. While eyesight issues are often due to the natural aging process, a variety of chronic health conditions can make the problem worse, including diabetes and high blood pressure. If you experience blurry or cloudy vision, spots or floaters, or a narrowed field of vision, schedule an appointment with your optometrist.
Senior rehabilitation and health center in San Diego
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40 percent of seniors over the age of 65 say their health is very good or excellent. At Bella Vista Health Center, our goal is for you to be among them. Whether you’re recovering from an injury or are learning to manage the symptoms of a chronic condition, we strive to provide a comfortable and supportive environment where you can rehabilitate back to your personal best.
Call us today to learn more about our 5-star skilled nursing facility and senior rehabilitation center at (619) 644-1000.