Some health problems in the elderly & tips toward healthy aging
What is aging?
Aging is a biological fact that has its own way of occurring outside of human control. Some reach the age of 70 in good health, while some require the care of others. There are several factors that affect the health of older people, they may be individual or environmental. Common problems affecting the elderly range from physical, social and psychological.
The importance of healthy aging lies in continued independence in performing daily needs.
Aging occurs at the level of physical changes as a result of the accumulation of large amounts of products of the reactions of molecules and cells over time; This leads to a gradual decline in physical and psychological capabilities, and an increase in the possibility of disease, and eventually death, but these changes are not inevitable, as some people may reach the age of seventy in good health, while others become debilitated and need the care of others.
Definition of health:
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” – World Health Organization.
Definition of aging:
The aging process is a biological fact that has its own way of occurring outside human control, and of course its definition varies from one society to another. Age is taken into consideration to determine a person’s aging, as there are other factors that determine the retirement age, such as: the ability to perform the work entrusted to them, meaning that aging begins when a person is unable to participate effectively in society.” Gorman 2000.
Factors affecting the health of the elderly:
Habits and behaviors.
Common health problems in the elderly:
First: Physical health problems:
Chronic diseases such as: diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, enuresis, osteoporosis, impaired vision and hearing, cancer.
Falls and fractures.
Diseases of the musculoskeletal system such as: arthritis, loss of balance, gait disturbance, difficulty or lack of movement.
Malnutrition (weight loss or obesity).
Respiratory diseases such as: influenza, pneumonia.
Nervous system diseases such as: stroke, tremor (Parkinson’s).
Digestive problems such as: poor sense of taste, decreased ability of the stomach and intestines to digest and absorb food, constipation.
Oral and dental problems such as: teeth falling out.
Second: Mental and psychological problems:
Mental and psychological diseases such as: dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression, delirium.
Third: Social Problems:
Decreased level of functionality.
It is the ability to carry out basic daily activities such as: eating, dressing, bathing, walking, and using the toilet without the help of others for the longest period of life, even if the elderly uses walking and mobility aids such as: a stick and a walker for the elderly.
The importance of healthy aging:
Extending a healthy, active lifespan.
Maintaining functional ability during old age and continuing independence in the performance of their daily needs.
Reducing premature deaths.
Raising morale and a sense of well-being in the elderly.
Increasing the number of people who enjoy a positive quality of life and participate in social and cultural activities.
Reducing the costs of medical treatment and care services.
The path to healthy aging:
Preparing for healthy aging begins at an early age; as there are some very essential tips that help a person maintain his or her health as he/she gets older, including:
1. Maintain healthy behaviors such as: a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and abstaining from smoking, which help:
Reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
Improving physical and mental capabilities.
Maintaining muscle mass.
Retention of cognitive function.
2. The Prevention of chronic diseases throughout life prevents the accumulation of negative effects of their risk factors; Which leads to reducing the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, and reduces the risk of developing their complications, to name but a few, physical disability, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
3. Make sure to carry out periodic medical examinations.
4. Take care to control chronic diseases.
5. Live in Supportive environments that help elderly carry out their important work regardless of their lost capabilities, such as: availability of buildings, safe and easily accessible transportation, and easy-to-walk roads.
6. Get enough sleep, as many elderly people complain of sleep problems such as: insomnia, drowsiness during the day, and frequent awakening during the night.
There are several guidelines for a healthy sleep:
Ensure that the bedroom is quiet, dark and cool, and the bedding is comfortable.
Use an eye mask to help block out the light.
Turn off the television and electronic devices at least one hour before bed.
Misconceptions about health and aging:
• Reaching a certain age will limit the person from practicing the activities he used to do, and become weak, and he will become a burden on his family.
In fact, not all the elderly are at the same level of health, so he who is still in his strength must be given the freedom to practice the activities that he can do, and to exploit his strength for his benefit.
• Memory loss is part of the aging process.
Memory loss is not an inevitable result of aging, a person can train the brain, and learn everything new at any age.
The importance in Exercising in the elderly:
Exercising, including aerobic exercises, is a healthy and necessary habit even in the elderly. Weight lifting helps prevent muscle weakness, decline in muscle mass due to age and osteoporosis, by strengthening muscles and increasing bone density.
Aerobic exercises increase increases endurance and may slightly reduce the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases. Older people can also enjoy dancing or any other forms of action exercise that may have additional positive effects like promoting body balance and helping prevent falls.