Isn’t it amazing that, for some of us, if we were blessed to have had good health as children, teenagers, and through middle-aged adulthood, how we may have lived with the feeling of invincibility, almost to the point of feeling immortal? The problem is, no matter how healthy our younger years may have been, it doesn’t stop the aging process, so without realizing it, our bodies are experiencing age-related changes as we continue our merry way through our lives.
Now add to this the fact that the damage to our bodies that we may sustain in our youthful years could eventually take its toll when we’re older. Well, the time comes when these truths become “in your face” facts we can no longer ignore, be it in the 5th, 6th, 7th, or an even later decade of life. It may sound like those who don’t experience health issues till much later in life are better off. Only the later the problem occurs, the more devastating it may be, as our bodies may have weakened to the point of not being able to handle whatever condition that comes upon us.
What are the most common health problems of older adults entering retirement? There can be numerous health problems an elderly person may have to deal with, and these problems cover a range of mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges, in addition to the well-known physical problems. People of all ages can experience health difficulties and contract many diseases or illnesses, but there are specific health conditions that are directly related to the aging process that we become more susceptible to as we grow older. After all, it would be nice to enter retirement in good health as this will be the time to relax and do the things we want to do. Therefore, it becomes necessary to continue regular medical checkups to remain in touch with the status of our health. What are the most common health problems of older adults? The following is a list of these problems.
The Most Common Health Problems Experienced by Older Adults
- High Blood Pressure: Also called Hypertension, is a condition where the pressure in the arteries is high and in older adults, it can become a medical condition that becomes long-term. Although a specific cause of high blood pressure hasn’t been determined, there are known factors that contribute to hypertension, such as obesity, poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking. People can be unaware that they have high blood pressure, so this makes high blood pressure problematic because serious complications can occur such as strokes and heart attacks.
- Diabetes: Insulin is the agent that releases the sugar in our bloodstream into the cells of the body to be turned into energy. There are two types of diabetes conditions: Type 1 diabetes is the condition where the body has a reaction that causes it to stop producing insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t properly use the insulin that’s produced to maintain normal blood sugar levels. If too much sugar remains in the bloodstream, diabetes develops and the results of this can lead to heart and kidney disease, and vision loss.
- Arteriosclerosis: A buildup of plaque in the artery walls that causes arteries to thicken and become narrower, forcing arteries to work harder at pumping blood through the system.
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s Diseases: Dementia is a state of being describing a decline in a person’s cognitive abilities that prohibits them from functioning properly in the activities in their daily life. Alzheimer’s is one of the many diseases that are classified as a type of Dementia.
- A Decline in Bones, Muscles, and Joints: When studying about what are the most common health problems of older adults, the musculoskeletal system is where an enormous amount of change occurs. Bones lose density as they shorten in length, muscles lose elasticity and vigor, and joints become crippled and work less efficiently. In this weakened state, older adults are in jeopardy of experiencing more fractures and breakages that take a longer time to heal.
- The Bladder/Urinary Tract: Another one of the thoughts that comes to mind when thinking of what are the most common health problems of older adults, is that the bladder loses elasticity and the pelvic muscles around it weaken. The result is frequent trips to the bathroom or uncomfortable accidents when you don’t make it to the bathroom in time.
- Changes Within the Digestive System: Older adults shouldn’t be surprised to encounter constipation more regularly as changes in the large intestine are a common occurrence. Also, many older adults take one or more prescription drugs, and certain drugs are known for interfering with the excretory process.
Latent Outcomes of Common Health Problems in Older Adults
When we discuss what are the most common health problems of older adults, besides the known complications, there are other residual effects that are experienced that may not be as easy to pinpoint and resolve. An illness or disease has a name and diagnosis attached and a person consults with their doctor to find out what they should do. But what about those problems that aren’t as clearly defined with a ready-made solution? These are the problems that ultimately, older adults themselves will have to work with and solve. The good thing is, once people enter retirement, they should then have the time they’ll need to work on the immediate and needed details to put a positive spin on their lives.
Falls and Collapses
There’s nothing more disturbing and shocking than what happens to older adults when they suddenly find themselves in a painful pile on the floor or ground. As children, falling and losing our balance was part of the routine, so we’d either run to “Mommy so she could kiss it and make it feel better”, or get up, brush ourselves off, and try again. But there comes a point in the life of older adults when falling and collapsing are no longer given a thought, which is why it’s so bewildering when it happens.
If falling or collapsing results in an injury that leaves a scar, which is another one of what are the most common health problems of older people, they can always undergo scar removal treatment through injection, laser treatment, surgery, and using silicone gel, or petroleum jelly. But what can be done about those tricky falls and collapses that a person might not even see coming? It will involve learning how to move more slowly and cautiously while being totally aware of every step taken and all the troublesome objects that are around you.
If people don’t learn about financial responsibility when they’re children, teenagers, and young adults, it’s easy to lose sight of this ability once you retire. The large obligation of maintaining a job is no longer there and a person is free to do as they like. This new-found freedom can bring about the desire “to do some of the things I never had the chance to do before” and money is then spent in disruptive ways.
Gambling can suddenly look like an appealing pleasure to engage in that could become an addiction. If it reaches a compulsive stage, gambling treatment should be sought as soon as possible. Dealing with what are the most common health problems of older adults is enough to contend with without having to add an unnecessary extra hindrance to the list.
Unhealthy Eating Habits
This is another area where good habits must be established in the early years to maintain this routine throughout a lifetime. In addition to contributing to an abundance of health problems, maintaining bad eating habits can also cause obesity as there’s a tendency to eat too many sweets and starches. During retirement, people can conduct research to learn about healthier meals to eat as well as consult with a nutritionist.
If weight gain has developed into a serious problem, people can consider checking into a body contouring treatment plan, a medical or surgical procedure that could remove excess fat from certain areas of the body. However, if this treatment is done, the person would still have to set up and stick to a healthy diet plan to maintain good health and to continue the weight loss process, since a body contouring treatment plan doesn’t help with actual weight loss.
Lack of Companionship
When pondering what are the most common health problems of older adults, lack of companionship isn’t a health concern, but it’s something that numerous people experience that could contribute to excessive loneliness. For those who own pets who have brought joy and solace into their lives, but may now be old too and living with health problems as well, it might help to involve them in pet physical therapy to help them overcome pain and increase mobility.
Pet therapy (different from pet physical therapy) is another type of therapy that involves the owner and their pet, using the bond between them to improve mental and physical concerns. While strengthening pets, owners can also benefit as the relationship mends and owners can reunite with the familiar companionship they once shared.
If it’s human relationships that interest people and there’s a partner in the picture, perhaps consulting with a couples therapist together could help both to achieve a more intimate relationship that will eventually rebuild a connection that was somehow lost over the years.
In discussing what are the most common health problems of older adults, we’ve covered falls being a serious problem. After falling, sustaining injuries like sprains and strains to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the body happen frequently and this can cause rigidity and tightness in muscles. If the injury is of a mild nature, it can be treated at home using over-the-counter medication, ice packs, wrapping compression bandages, elevation, and rest.
If the rigidity is of a severe or chronic nature, it’ll be necessary to consult a physician who might suggest physical therapy care or chiropractic care. They’ll need to know what caused the injury and determine the extent of the injury to recommend appropriate treatment recommendations.
Lack of Excitement
This is a case of retiring after having worked for 35 years or more, working 5 days a week for 8 or more hours per day. A schedule such as this doesn’t leave much time to develop other interests, especially if raising children were included in those years. Once entering retirement, the job is now gone and the children are all grown, so what will be done with all the free time?
As people wander around trying to figure out how to use their time, boredom will likely come into play and with it, in creeps a lack of excitement. Why not clear your mind and start with something small? Pick an activity that focuses entirely on yourself: go to your local nail salon and relax while you’re given a manicure and a pedicure!
Loss of Purpose
This is another case of retiring from working after 35 years or more and being left with the feeling of “What do I do now?”. This might be a good time to relocate to a retirement community. These communities offer events and activities specially designed for the older generation, making sure that all the needs of the elderly are within their reach. During the time spent engaging in activities, people are meeting new friends and discovering new interests they can enjoy that point them in a new direction for the next stage of their lives.
Keep in mind that during this time of your life, there’s the likely unpleasant occurrence of the death of some friends and family members and you may spend a fair share of your time visiting funeral homes. Therefore, do everything you can to look toward a new direction to bring purpose and meaning to the next phase of your life.
What are the most common health problems of older adults? It’s been discussed in full here, but we must remain mindful that after retirement, we’re set to begin the next phase of our lives. Therefore, we should take care of any health problems that come, while becoming involved in those projects that interest us and bring new meaning and purpose into our lives.