According to UN statistics, the world population was 7.7 billion in mid-2019. Of these, 703 million (9.1%) were aged 65 or over.
The world population is expected to grow to around 9.7 billion by 2050, when the number of older people will double to over 1.5 billion, ie just over 15% of the total population in 2050.
Aging can bring on various health problems to a degree unfamiliar to younger people.
If you are over 60, catching a cold or flu can lead to more serious illnesses. These include respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus or ear infections.
If you already have a chronic condition like diabetes or asthma, a respiratory condition can make things much worse.
Here is a brief overview of the most common health problems faced by retirees:
- Chronic illness
- Physical injury (falls)
- cognitive health
- See and hear
- teeth and gums
- behavioral health
- substance abuse
- constipation and incontinence
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
The term chronic refers to a disease or condition that is long lasting or keeps recurring. It does not indicate the severity of the disease.
The leading causes of death among retirees in the US are chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory tract disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and diabetes.
According to the US National Council on Aging, 80% of older adults have at least one chronic condition and 70% have two or more. The numbers for other advanced countries like those in the European Union, Canada, UK, etc. are similar.
Chronic illness can limit a retiree’s ability to engage in normal daily activities.
As a result, they lose their independence and are dependent on long-term services and support such as nursing staff in their own homes.
Eventually, they must enter a nursing home (retirement home) or qualified care facility staffed by registered nurses who have experience caring for the elderly.
The best way to prevent or treat chronic diseases is to:
- come for regular check-ups
- eat healthy
- exercise regularly and consistently
- decrease as needed
Physical injury (falls)
Falls are a leading cause of fatal and non-fatal physical injuries among retirees. A fall can result in hip fractures, head injuries and even death.
Every 15 seconds, a pensioner is brought to a hospital emergency room because of a fall. Every 30 seconds a pensioner dies from a fall.
Those are sobering statistics… In fact, retirees are five times more likely to be hospitalized for falls-related injuries than for injuries from other causes.
There are several reasons why retirees are more prone to falls than younger people:
- Aging causes your bones to shrink and your muscles to lose strength and flexibility, making you frail and more likely to lose your balance and fall.
- Diseases like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis can make you even more frail and at risk of falling.
Fear of falling can cause retirees to limit their activities, which can lead to greater physical decline and thus more falls, as well as social isolation and depression.
In many cases, increasing your physical activity to strengthen your body and doing some of these can reverse your tendency to fall more often as you get older Practical conversions for your home.
Understanding is the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and the senses. cognitive health refers to your ability to think, learn, and remember.
dementia is a general term for loss of memory, speech, problem solving, and other thinking skills severe enough to interfere with daily living.
There are several types of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.
Currently (2020) about 50 million people suffer from dementia. This is expected to triple by 2050.
Your risk of dementia is increased if you have chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, HIV, etc. Your risk increases if you smoke or abuse drugs.
There is currently no cure for dementia. However, you can manage the condition with a treatment plan based on the type of dementia you have and the medications prescribed.
You can also halt the decline in your cognitive health by doing crossword puzzles and other mental exercises and learning a new skill.
At 74 I’m learning digital marketing and the effort has certainly improved with thinking skills. I understand faster now and remember better.
We’ll talk about that in another post.
See and hear
Problems with our eyes and ears are very common after the age of 70.
It seems that 25% of pensioners have a hearing problem and 17% have a vision problem. Both problems can easily be solved with hearing aids and glasses.
The assessment of these conditions and associated solutions are rapidly improving due to the ongoing development of new technologies.
teeth and gums
The most common problems we have with our teeth and gums are dry mouth, gum disease, untreated tooth decay and oral cancer.
About 25% of adults over 65 no longer have natural teeth. Of those who have at least some of their own teeth, about 20% have untreated tooth decay and over 70% have gum disease.
Poor oral health can negatively impact your diet (since you avoid eating nutritious foods meant to be chewed) and create low self-esteem.
Mouth problems can also interfere with the management of other chronic conditions you have.
The good news is that poor oral health can be managed with regular visits to the dentist.
The sad news is that dental services don’t come cheap and aren’t affordable when you’re on a meager pension.
While behavioral health refers to how the behavior affects a person’s well-being, Mental health deals primarily with the state of being of an individual.
One in four (25%) of retirees suffer from behavioral health problems such as substance abuse, while 15% of adults over 60 suffer from a mental health disorder such as depression or chronic anxiety.
Problems like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse can interfere with treatment for other chronic conditions, impact your quality of life, and lead to premature death.
depression… affects 7% of retirees but is often undiagnosed and untreated. It can be a side effect of other chronic diseases.
Managing these conditions can help relieve depression, as can maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle and getting support from family and friends or other social support groups.
Suicide… in the US, retirees are responsible for over 18% of all suicide deaths. People over 85 are four times more likely to commit suicide than all age groups combined.
substance abuse… like excessive alcohol consumption, is responsible for a significant number of deaths among pensioners.
Behavioral health problems are not a normal part of aging. They can be treated effectively.
Despite this, two-thirds of retirees in developed countries are not receiving the care they need.
Abuse of alcohol or recreational drugs is more common among those over 65 than previously thought.
However, because substance abuse is not associated with the elderly, it is often overlooked and overlooked in medical investigations.
Also, retirees are often prescribed multiple scripts for long-term use, so they have many medications on hand.
Physicians must be on the lookout for signs of substance abuse during medical exams of their patients.
If you are prone to abusing drugs, there are many support services available to help people of all ages break their bad habits.
When you’re malnourished, your muscles and immune system are likely to weaken.
There are a variety of reasons why retirees may be malnourished, and these are mainly due to other health issues. For example, pensioners with dementia may forget to eat.
If you’re on a meager pension, you probably can’t afford to eat a highly nutritious diet. Other causes of malnutrition are depression, alcoholism and poor social contacts.
You can improve the nutritional quality of your food by consuming more fruits and vegetables and consuming less salt and saturated fat.
If you cannot afford to eat properly or have difficulty cooking, you can use the catering services t
constipation and incontinence
These diseases are common in old age and can affect your quality of life as a pensioner.
Persistent congestion or an inability to control your bladder can be caused by a number of things… normal age-related changes… a chronic illness (such as diabetes) and… not eating a balanced, nutritious diet.
If you suffer from incontinence and constipation, you should eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and keep your weight down.
In addition, you should swallow your embarrassment and discuss the matter with your doctor and follow his advice.
Depending on the cause of your bladder and bowel problem, there are actually some effective medical treatments available.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Although sexual needs and abilities can change with age, as I’m sure you already know, desire doesn’t go away.
There are medications like Cialis (my favorite) that can help you overcome sexual dysfunction.
STDs threaten retirees as well as younger people.
Perhaps we are more likely to become infected since we are less likely to use condoms, which combined with our weakened immune system makes us more vulnerable to exposure to a serious STD.
The solution is simple… use a condom.
Thanks to Paul D Kennedy