Physiological changes are indispensable during the natural course of aging. These changes affect the health and lifestyle of seniors and older adults, some of which become more prominent.
Such physical and psychological changes may or may not point to an underlying disease. Nevertheless, they can distress seniors who don’t know how to cope with it.
Achieving better health outcomes is possible for seniors if they exercise regularly and follow a balanced diet. Apart from that, seniors must take specific preventive measures and go for routine screening tests.
Therefore, in this blog post, we explain what to do when a senior’s health begins to fail.
What are the Expected Physiological Changes?
While aging-related physiological changes cannot be stopped, they can be delayed with some awareness. The following are some common physiological changes that seniors experience as they age:
- Immunity: seniors face frequent infections due to reduced efficacy of white blood cells
- Memory: lapses in memory that may lead to Alzheimer’s disease
- Sleep: aging affects the quality and duration of sleep
- Hormones: thyroid dysfunction, blood sugar changes, metabolism changes, erectile dysfunction
- Bones and muscles: muscle loss, inflamed joints, reduced bone density, less flexibility
- Balance and mobility: falls, bruises, and fractures linked to previous changes
What Are Some Examples of Underlying Diseases in Seniors?
The reason behind the failing health of seniors could be manifold. In most cases, it is caused due to organ degeneration leading to decreased function of the specific organ.
The following are some of the most commonly encountered underlying diseases in seniors that are classified based on organ system:
- General problems: falls, weight loss, diminished appetite, medication side effects, forgetfulness, general deconditioning, and fatigue
- Psychiatric: insomnia, sleep disturbance, anxiety, and depression
- Infections: colon infection, shingles, skin infection, pneumonia, and urinary tract infection
- Oral and dental: loss of teeth, dry mouth, and gum disease
- Immune system: myelodysplasia and anemia
- Skin and hair: infections, itching, dry skin, and hair loss
- Cancers: pancreas, brain, ovary, bladder, skin, breast, lung, colon, and prostate cancer, to name a few
- Lungs: decrease in lung volume and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Kidneys: Long-standing hypertension or diabetes, leading to renal diseases.
- Cardiovascular disease: peripheral artery disease, high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythm, congestive heart failure, and heart attacks
- Visual: hypertension-induced eye problems, diabetes-induced eye diseases, cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration
- Musculoskeletal: fractures, gout, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis
- Hormonal: slower metabolism, high blood cholesterol, thyroid dysfunction, menopause, and impaired blood glucose level
A full body checkup will help determine the exact cause of failing health and the steps to proceed with the senior’s care after that.
How Do Lifestyle Changes Affect Seniors’ Health?
Caregivers and seniors can effectively manage age-related health issues by making certain lifestyle changes outlined below:
- Eat healthily: To keep the gastrointestinal and cardiovascular system in optimal health, seniors should include low-sodium foods, lean meats, vegetables, and fruits in their diet. Besides, they should avoid fried food and fatty acids to prevent health-related diseases.
- Quit smoking: There’s no right age to quit smoking. Smoking can lead to premature death and various illnesses.
- Be active: As people age, they start to lose muscle mass. The process is gradual, but it can be delayed by staying active. Even a 30-minute walk every day can improve cardiovascular health and reduce cholesterol.
- Reduce alcohol intake: Seniors are more susceptible to falls that can have devastating consequences such as disability and morbidity. Alcohol intake can cause accidental falls and bone loss.
- Stimulate your brain: Since memory loss is associated with dementia, it’s essential to keep the brain sharp and focused as people age. Reading, solving puzzles, and staying socially active can help stimulate the mind as well as ward off depression.
- Go for regular checkups: Apart from following the lifestyle mentioned above, it’s equally important to seek professional help from time to time.
Age-related health issues may not be completely avoidable. However, combating them before the symptoms start to show helps seniors stay active and healthy.
Besides, timely intervention is imperative to minimize hospital visits and complications later on. At AdvantagePlusNurses, seniors can keep track of their health status through annual wellness visits.
Apart from that, they can coordinate their visits to different care settings using our transitional care coordination services.