During the ageing phase in one’s life, great physical and mental changes occur which leads to the infection of some old people with many diseases. Here are the most important diseases that affect the elderly.
Aging is a stage that no one can escape. As a person ages, obvious physical changes occur in the functional organs of the body. This explains why some older people suffer from many diseases that have become closely linked with the old age stage.
What diseases affect older people? And what are its main symptoms?
What Diseases affecting the elderly?
Diseases affecting the elderly include the following:
1. Parkinson’s disease
This disease has become more common in the elderly, which is a decrease in the number of cells that produce dopamine in the brain, the substance responsible for movement. This disorder is manifested by the appearance of tremors in the hands and stiffness of the face and of the body and muscle as well.
This explains the inability of most older people to walk normally due to osteoarthritis, or the so-called stiffness resulting from poor joint ability.
Another symptom of Parkinson’s disease is imbalance. In the advanced stages, patients lose balance and coordination in their various movements; in addition to tha, the body and head turn forward with the back arched, sometimes exposing the elderly people to fall or stumble
2. Alzheimer’s disease
One of the most important diseases that affect the elderly is Alzheimer’s disease, a disease that affects the nerve cells of the brain, which leads to their damage and shrinkage in the size of the brain. It affects the part responsible for the language and memory, and often happens to people over sixty.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include confusion, speech repetition, memory loss, and diminished mental abilities in the elderly.
3. Hearing impairment
Hearing loss that accompanies ageing is due to atherosclerosis that supplies the inner ear (the cochlea), and it is one of the most common complications that older people suffer from.
There is a group of symptoms that indicate that a person has hearing loss including: the person speaks loudly more than necessary and in some cases there may be noise and “ringing” in one or both ears.
4. Heart disease
Myocardial infarction is a very common disease in the elderly that eventually leads to weakness in the body.
One of the symptoms of an enlarged or weak heart muscle is the feeling of shortness of breath, especially during physical exertion, even if it is a light exercise which doesn’t require a great effort.
5. Atrophic arthritis
Atrophic arthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis, especially in older people, and it is a chronic disease that affects cartilage, which is the connective tissue that lines and protects the surfaces of bones at where they meet to form the joints, as well as some of the tissues that surround the joint.
Symptoms of amyotrophic arthritis can include joint pain, stiffness and full mobility, with joint stiffness being most severe in the morning and gradually decreasing after half an hour.
It is a chronic inflammation of the breathing airways. Asthma occurs when the airways and bronchial tubes are very sensitive to allergens, especially when exposed to external environmental stimuli.
This can lead to bronchitis and muscle spasms which lead to shortness of breath. Symptoms of asthma are repeated attacks of coughing, wheezing and chest tightness, especially at night and early in the morning.
These episodes are accompanied by a narrowing of the airways and improve spontaneously with the withdrawal of the stimuli or by effective treatment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 25% of people age 65 or older are living with diabetes, which poses a significant health risk to older adults.
Diabetes can be identified and treated early by carrying out blood tests to measure the sugar level in it, the earlier the disease is diagnosed, the less severe the symptoms will be.
How to Prevent diseases in the elderly?
We must first realize well that the presence of a chronic disease in older people does not mean the beginning of an end, or that the presence of these diseases is inevitable; on the contrary, this matter can be dealt with and treated so that the old people can live their independent life without any disability or deficiency.
According to the Center for Disease Control, a large number of diseases and disabilities can be avoided through preventive measures that help prevent aging diseases, and the most important of these measures is delaying the time of chronic diseases through:
- Accustom yourself to committing to a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly from an early age. Avoid alcohol and smoking because of their negative impact on health.
- Periodic health follow-up to diagnose any chronic disease such as diabetes, high fat, or tumors during an early stage. As most tumors have a higher recovery rate in the early detection stage.
- Awareness that some diseases such as joint stiffness, diabetes and others are preventable, and if they occur, this does not mean disability, but that there are many medical solutions for a person to enjoy a healthy, normal life.
In the end, we want to make it clear that the percentage of elderly people in societies has increased in recent years; Because of the development of the level of health care, and the existence of a more suitable environment for the care of the elderly. This percentage will increase further in the following years.
This means that we must increase our ability to deal with the elderly and provide appropriate medical means to reduce the impact of chronic diseases on their lives. The elderly person remains independent and able to serve himself as long as possible without the need of a helper in every step of his daily life.
Elderly people have done great efforts and provided great services for their nations at a certain age; therefore, they shouldn’t be marginalized or neglected. They deserve a high quality healthcare service.