5 Common Illnesses of the Elderly and How To Manage Them

It’s a well-known fact that we are beginning to live for longer, the living age has increased massively over the past century as the quality of living has improved.

We have better healthcare, better hygiene, a better diet and a better grasp on our mortality, but with a longer life, comes the susceptibility to more diseases, ailments and illnesses.

It’s important to know how to manage and even prevent. Here are the 5 most common illnesses that occur within the elderly and how to manage them.

Arthritis

There are two types of arthritis that can affect us: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The most common form of arthritis is the initially mentioned osteoarthritis, which affects around 8 million people in the UK alone.

This disease affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint which makes bending or any kind of movement more difficult and painful, severe cases can lead to the wearing away of cartilage, which will cause bone rubbing on bone.

Although this disease is more commonly found in people over 40, this can affect anybody at any age. Rheumatoid arthritis is less common and is three times for likely to affect a woman than a man.

This condition causes the inflammation and pain occurring in joints, it occurs when the synovium (outer covering of the joint) is affected – this can easily spread through the joint and cause all kinds of havoc.

Arthritis is commonly known as a hereditary condition, so if your parents or grandparents suffer with arthritis, then you are more susceptible to getting it too.

Symptoms often entail of inflammation and pain in various joints, the most commonly affected areas are the knees, spine and hands.

There isn’t a cure for arthritis, but certain prescription medications can make the pain more bearable and manageable in everyday life.

If you begin to experience any of these symptoms, then it’s important to visit your doctor.

Alzheimer’s & Dementia

Dementia and Alzheimer’s often get confused for one another, but there are clear distinctions between the two.

To begin with, dementia is a syndrome, rather than a disease.

Dementia causes symptoms such as memory loss, communication abilities and everyday life activities, whereas Alzheimer’s disease worsens over time and leads to the deterioration of language ability, memory and thought.

You’re more likely to develop dementia as you age, and occurs when brain cells are damaged from injury, substance abuse or various different diseases.

Alzheimer’s disease can impair the brain cells, which leads to syndromes such as dementia. Alzheimer’s is a terminal illness that currently has no cure and massively decreases the sufferer’s life span down to 4-8 years after diagnosis.

Cancer

There are over 200 various types of cancer a person can contract, from lung, liver, skin, breast and testicular to name a few.

There are various success rates of cancer treatments, depending on the string you contract, and some cancer types respond to chemotherapy better than others.

Cancer is a disease that involves abnormal cell growth throughout certain parts of the body called malignant melanomas, which damage and even destroy parts of the body, they can lead to organ failure and incurable ailments.

When caught early and with the right treatment cancer is treatable, however the older you become the more vulnerable you are as your immune system weakens.

There are certain cancer types that can be completely preventable, for example ovarian cancer – these require vital regular check-ups.

Simple healthy lifestyle choices can massively reduce your risk of getting certain types of cancer, with researchers believing about only 10% of cancer is caused genetically.

If you commit to healthy eating, exercising regularly, protecting yourself from harmful UV rays and stopping bad habits, such as excessive drinking and smoking, then you can hugely reduce the risk of contracting cancer.  

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a nasty and incurable disease that leads to the gradual deterioration of the brain, which will impair and lead to the deterioration of motor skills, a person’s ability to speak, memory ability and even muscles reflexes.

This disease often causes a person to shake uncontrollably throughout different parts of the body. As well as physical symptoms, there are also psychological symptoms that are also commonly experienced.

Parkinson’s is linked with anxiety and depression, change in sleeping patterns – i.e. disturbed and infrequent sleep and extreme fatigue, loss of balance and loss of sense of smell.

The cause for Parkinson’s is unclear at present and although no cure is known at the moment, there are a still a number of treatments available to help ease the pain.

These treatments are dependent on the severity or onset of the disease and most commonly include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, medications and in severe cases brain surgery.   

Conclusion

Although some of the aforementioned diseases are hereditary, there are often strong links to a person’s lifestyle choices.

It’s important to take into consideration how important leading a healthy lifestyle can be.

If you believe to be experiencing any of the symptoms or ailments discusses above, the seek immediate medical consultation.

Author Bio:

Alice Porter is a freelance writer, who works closely with Grandcare to raise awareness for health conditions and the elderly.

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