By the year 2010, roughly 5.5 million Americans lived to be 85 years old or older. It’s predicted that by 2050, this 85+ age group will jump to 19 million Americans, or 5% of the total population, according to the Institute of Aging. With more and more people living an extended life, it’s important to understand medical issues that you are at risk of developing, as well as what you can do to minimize your risk. Here are just some of the more common health issues that seniors develop and what you can do to reduce your risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is still the leading cause of death for people over 65. Heart disease accounted for 489,722 deaths in 2014. Plus, it affects about 37% of men and 26% of women ages 65 and older. High blood pressure and high cholesterol both increase as we age, and they are also both high-risk factors for developing heart disease. If you eat well, exercise, and sleep well at night, you can greatly lower your risk of developing heart disease.
We walk literally hundreds and even thousands of miles on our feet by the time we grow old, so it’s no wonder that foot problems become more prevalent as we age. About 75% of Americans will experience foot health problems of varying degrees of severity at some point or another in their lives. You might experience bunions, ingrown toenails, chronic pain, and more. The best thing you can do it wear the right shoes and see a podiatrist on a regular basis as you age to keep track of your foot health.
While an individual can get cancer at any age, your risk for cancer increases as you get older. According to Web MD, your risk for cancer jumps significantly after you hit age 50. Additionally, more than half of all cancers happen in people over the age of 65. Certain kinds of cancers are more prevalent than others, like skin cancer. Roughly 9,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer every single day. In order to reduce your risk of cancer, you should watch your weight, cut down on red meat, exercise regularly, and schedule regular checkups and screenings with your doctor.
It is somewhat normal for memory to be affected by aging, but only up to a point. Mild cognitive impairment is what they refer to as age-related memory loss, and it’s more serious than what typically occurs with aging. Research suggests that 10% to 20% of people ages 65 and over may develop mild cognitive impairment. If you start to notice symptoms of cognitive impairment, like confusion, ask your doctor for a mental health evaluation.
As we age, our risk for diabetes increases, according to the CDC. It’s estimated that 25% of people over the age of 65 are living with diabetes, which makes it a significant senior health risk. Because diabetes is identified and addressed with blood tests for blood sugar levels, you should have your levels tested. The sooner you know and understand your risk for diabetes, the sooner you can make changes to control the disease and improve your long-term outlook.
The older we get, the more important it is for us to look after our health. Age is a significant risk factor for many health challenges, after all. Make sure you regularly see your doctor for screenings, checkups, and tests. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and tell your doctor if you think that something is wrong.