Written by Nurse Susan
Aging comes with a number of new health challenges, many of which can be frustrating. However, people are now living longer than ever.
This means that, if you take steps early to prevent common conditions, you can still live a long, productive life and enjoy your golden years.
Listed below are four common health issues for which seniors are at risk. Read on to learn how you can prevent them or stop them from getting worse.
Of all the conditions that seniors face, arthritis is typically considered the most common. It affects almost 50 percent of people over the age of 65, and many find that it significantly diminishes their quality of life.
Arthritis can’t always be prevented, as factors like gender and family history play a part in causing it. However, these tips can still help you minimize your risk of developing arthritis:
- Eat plenty of fish, specifically salmon, mackerel, trout, and sardines. They are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation throughout the body.
- Exercise regularly to strengthen the muscles and bones and maintain a good range of motion in your joints
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Use proper technique to protect your joints while exercising
If you already suffer from arthritis but want to minimize its effects, you can still apply these tips.
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to weaken and become more likely to fracture.
Approximately 54 million Americans over the age of fifty suffer from osteoporosis or low bone mass, and that number is expected to increase to 64.4. million by 2020.
Osteoporosis can seriously limit your mobility and increases your risk for injuries that can reduce your quality of life. Luckily, these tips can help you prevent it:
- Consume a balanced diet rich in Vitamin D and calcium
- Exercise regularly to strengthen the bones and muscles — a mix of weight-bearing exercise (hiking, walking, dancing) and resistance exercise (weight lifting) is best.
- Avoid smoking
- Limit alcohol consumption to 2-3 drinks each day
- Get regular screenings to catch signs early
Osteoporosis is much easier to prevent than it is to treat. However, these tips will help those already suffering from it slow its progression and prevent injuries and fractures.
Diabetes affects about 25 percent of people over the age of 65, making it a significant health risk for seniors.
Type 1 diabetes is not preventable and typically occurs in younger individuals. However, there are many steps seniors can take to prevent Type 2 diabetes, including the following:
- Limit your consumption of simple carbohydrates and sugar
- Increase your fiber intake (fiber can help lower blood sugar and insulin production)
- Pay attention to portion sizes
- Exercise regularly to help manage your weight
- Drink more water and avoid sugary soda and juice
- Quit smoking (it can increase your risk of developing diabetes by 44 percent!)
- Get regular checkups so your doctor can spot signs early
A healthy diet, quitting smoking, and exercise regularly can also help you manage your diabetes better if you already have it.
If you suffer from neuropathy, you can also prevent additional damage and improve circulation to your feet by wearing compression socks or pain management socks for plantar fasciitis.
Millions of seniors are treated each year for falls. Falls are also the leading cause of fatal injury among seniors.
Your likelihood of sustaining a serious injury from a fall increases when you suffer from many of the conditions mentioned above, particularly arthritis and osteoporosis. Taking steps to prevent these conditions can also help minimize your risk of falling.
Some other steps you can take to avoid falls include:
- Attaching grab bars in the bathroom
- Removing tripping hazards like area rugs
- Beware of medications that can cause dizziness
- Get your eyes checked regularly
- Exercise regularly to improve your balance and reflexes
You may also want to wear a medical alert bracelet so that, if you do fall, you can call for help immediately after.
Prevention is almost always easier than treatment. To avoid the conditions mentioned above and the complications that can accompany them, be sure to keep these tips in mind.
Nurse Susan has always been passionate about helping people heal. After she retired from a lifelong career as a nurse, that passion didn’t go away. She loves to use her expertise to write about the best ways to keep you and your family healthy, active, and happy.