The Most Common Age-Related Problems After 60, Say Doctors
Getting older doesn't have to be a bad thing. Aging is a privilege that not everyone gets the chance to do. That said, as people do start to age, health issues can arise and taking preventive measures is key to staying healthy longer. The lifestyle choices we make now will make a difference as we enter our golden years. Eat This, Not That! Health talked with doctors who explain what health changes people over 60 can face and how to help avoid them. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Changes People Over 60 Can Encounter
Dr. Teresa Amato, MD, chair of emergency medicine at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills (LIJ Forest Hills) hospital in Queens, NY says, "As people experience normal aging they should expect some changes both to their physical and mental health. The body will start to naturally lose some muscle mass and the brain too will start to lose some mass. That being said there are a number of things older adults can do to counter some of these normal changes. Regular exercising and socializing can go a long way to keep an older adult both physically and mentally fit. Some big health mistakes older adults can make are, decreasing exercise and leading a more sedentary lifestyle, decreasing socialization, over or under utilizing medications and not getting recommended medical screenings."
Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies adds, "As people age, their bodies change in myriad ways. Some of these changes are positive, such as increased wisdom and maturity. However, many aging adults also experience a decline in physical health, leading to a number of problems. According to doctors, the most common age-related problems after 60 include arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, and dementia. While there is no way to prevent these conditions completely, there are steps that aging adults can take to reduce their risk. For example, staying active and maintaining a healthy weight can help to prevent arthritis and osteoporosis. Eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise can also lower the risk of heart disease. And finally, engaging in mentally stimulating activities can help slow the progression."
Dr. Amato shares, "Falls can be a problem for older adults. They can lead to life altering injuries such as a broken hip or head bleed. Regular exercise that focuses on balance may help decrease falls. In addition, making sure that any excess clutter is removed from the environment can also help prevent falls. Finally, many falls happen in the bathroom. Wet floors and hard surfaces makes a fall more likely but can lead to worse injuries. Consider placing hand rails to assist with lifting in and out of the shower as well as near toilets. Place non-slip material on the shower or bath floor."
Dr. Amato states, "Older adults may become more socially isolated. Several studies link depression, worsening dementia and worsening physical health in older adults that have decreased socialization. Making sure there is safe transportation and access to other people is important for both physical and mental health. Consider joining a social club or activity that can be enjoyed with others."
Missing Regular Screenings
According to Dr. Amato, "The pandemic has had effects on older adults getting their medical screenings. Getting recommended screenings such as colonoscopy and mammograms help prevent serious diseases and can decrease mortality in many cases. Make sure to talk to your physician to schedule or reschedule any screenings that you may have missed."
Dr. Mitchell explains, "Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States, and the risk of developing heart disease increases with age. While many factors contribute to the development of heart disease, aging is one of the most important. Our blood vessels become less flexible and more prone to damage as we age. This can lead to plaque buildup and eventually blockages that can cause a heart attack or stroke. While there is no way to prevent aging completely, there are steps that can be taken to help reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Exercise and a healthy diet can help to keep your vessels healthy and reduce plaque buildup. Quitting smoking and managing stress are also crucial for reducing your risk of heart disease. By making lifestyle changes and being aware of your risk factors, you can help keep your heart healthy as you age.
There are several risk factors for CAD, including:
- Family history of heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Sedentary lifestyle
- The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), when plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, and calcium. Over time, plaque can harden or rupture, which can lead to a heart attack. CAD is the leading cause of death in both women and men in the United States."
Dr. Mitchell says, "Dementia is a degenerative brain disorder that causes a progressive decline in cognitive function. Symptoms include memory loss, confusion, and changes in mood and behavior. Although it can occur at any age, dementia is most common in older adults. Aging is the most significant risk factor for dementia, and the number of people with the condition is expected to increase as the population ages. There are several things that people can do to help prevent dementia, including maintaining a healthy lifestyle, staying socially active, and exercising the mind. Although there is no sure way to prevent dementia, these measures may help to reduce the risk. In my practice, I encouraged patients to keep healthy blood pressure, as we know that high blood pressure (hypertension) is a risk factor for dementia. Unfortunately, there isn't a cure for dementia, so in this condition and many other conditions, prevention is indeed better than a cure!
It is now more critical than ever for us to take care of our minds. The Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention, and maintenance have found that addressing risk factors may prevent up to 40% or even half of the cases! To reduce risk factors, one must exercise regularly, manage and reduce stress, maintain a healthy weight, maintain healthy blood sugar, and quit smoking, naming a few."
Dr. Mitchell states, "Cancer is a complex disease that can be influenced by many factors, including age. The incidence of cancer increases with each passing year. Still, there are some exceptions to this rule—the rate does not increase dramatically until someone reaches their midlife point at around 50 years old when it begins rising more rapidly after 55+. According to the American Cancer Society, 77% of all cancers are diagnosed in people over 55.
Health at midlife is a crucial time for establishing the foundation of long-term health. Many factors can affect your later years, such as which foods you choose to eat and if they're nutritious or not! You might be surprised by how much impact these choices will have on whether or when certain diseases strike down the line–especially cancer.
It is no secret that the human body was not meant to be in a state of constant stress. The more we push our bodies beyond what they can handle, the higher risks for cancer and other diseases become prevalent among Americans. For example, well-established behaviors like smoking cigarettes or consuming alcohol at an excessive rate may increase one's chances of developing these conditions over time simply because you were exposed longer than necessary before quitting cold turkey!"
Healthy Lifestyle Choice Will Have a Positive Impact On Your Overall Well-Being
"I am sure you have noticed that preventing illness has a common theme," Dr. Mitchell says. "Quite frankly, it's not rocket science! Your choices over your lifetimes do matter. If everyone were mindful of living a healthy, proactive lifestyle, the incidence of significant illnesses after 60 would dramatically decrease. It's not too late to make healthy choices, but the sooner you start, the better! So if you are not currently exercising regularly, eating a nutritious diet, and managing stress effectively, now is the time to start. Your future self will thank you!"
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