No one can avoid the aging process. Though there’s long been a search for the fountain of youth, old age and its negative effects are inevitable. Unfortunately, negative health conditions often emerge as you age. You’ll have spent much of your life thinking that you could never get sick, but suddenly you realize that your age is advancing, and you’re susceptible to illness and disease.
But, if you’re aware of some of the most common health conditions that come with age, you can take steps to prevent their onset in your own life. The time for prevention starts now. Here’s what you need to know about some of the most common elderly health concerns and how you can avoid them in the future:
- Heart Disease
Heart disease has been named the number one killer of both American men and women. It’s responsible for nearly 610,000 deaths each year. It also causes hundreds of thousands of heart attacks.
Heart disease occurs when arteries are blocked by bad cholesterol and plaque. The blockage can result from the foods you eat, obesity, or genetics. Over time, these blockages can cause blood clots, stroke, heart attacks, and high blood pressure, all of which can be fatal without proper medical intervention.
How to Beat It: Though heart disease can have a genetic factor, most can avoid it by living a healthy lifestyle. Here’s what you can do:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce sodium, fat, and sugar intake
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid smoking and drinking
- Drink plenty of water
Your chances of avoiding heart disease are much higher if you start these habits at a young age.
Osteoporosis affects about 54 million Americans over the age of 50. It’s a condition that weakens bone density, increasing the risk for breaks and fractures. It can also cause limited mobility and can contribute to arthritis.
Osteoporosis a painful disease and does not have a cure. Prevention is key to avoiding the pain and negative repercussions that come with this bone disease.
How to Beat It: Again, genetics can always play a factor in your risk for developing an illness like osteoporosis. However, you can take steps to avoid it by:
- Staying hydrated
- Avoiding smoking and drinking excessive alcohol
- Increasing your calcium and vitamin D intake
- Drinking less caffeine
- Exercising regularly
- Keeping your weight in check
Like osteoporosis, arthritis is a condition of the bones that limits movement and can cause serious pain. It affects about 50 percent of people over the age of 65, especially those who are obese and sedentary. It’s also about three times more common in women than in men.
Arthritis occurs when the cartilage surrounding your joints becomes brittle and starts to diminish. This causes the bones to scrape against each other, creating pain and increasing your risk of breakage. If arthritis becomes severe, it can become impossible to move the joints.
Though there are several different types of arthritis, the most common are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). OA is common for older people, and is the product of low physical activity, spinal problems, injuries, and other external factors. RA is an autoimmune disease primarily caused by genetics – it’s typically the more severe of the two.
How to Beat It: To avoid OA, it’s important to:
- Stay hydrated
- Consume enough calcium and vitamin D
- Exercise regularly
- Manage your weight
- Do low-impact exercises
- Stop smoking
- Limit alcohol
RA does not have a cure, nor can it be prevented if it’s genetic. However, you can delay the onset and manage the symptoms by staying healthy and taking prescription drugs.
Stroke is number three on the list of most common causes of death in America. More than 795,000 stroke events occur every year and more than 140,000 people die from the incident. Stroke can occur at any age, but it’s most common for those over the age of 65.
A stroke occurs when blood stops flowing to the brain, usually as the result of a blood clot or other blockage in the veins. This causes brain cells to die, and the body can shut down from the damage.
The most common symptoms and results of a stroke include headache, vision trouble, difficulty with speaking or comprehension, paralysis, and low coordination. Some people recover from these symptoms, but others are disabled for life.
How to Beat It: About 80 percent of strokes are preventable. Stroke and heart disease often go hand in hand, so as you work to prevent heart disease, you can also reduce your risks of stroke. Here’s what you can do:
- Lower your blood pressure
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise more often
- Treat diabetes
- Avoid foods high in cholesterol
- Quit smoking and drink less alcohol
By far the most effective way to prevent any of these illnesses is to live a healthy lifestyle and get regular checkups. Your physician can monitor signs and treat symptoms of any of these illnesses. What you do now will dictate whether or not you can avoid serious health concerns in the future.