Long-term medical conditions currently affect around four million older people in the US. This is set to rise because of our ageing population. In fact, experts predict that by 2030, around seven million older people will have some form of long-term medical condition.
The ageing population and the increased prevalence of long-term medical conditions have had a huge impact on the NHS. Falls are the biggest cause of emergency admissions for older people and significantly impact long-term outcomes, especially for those who suffer from a medical problem.
Common Medical Conditions in Older People
Advances in healthcare have helped people in the world live longer than ever before. As a result, medical conditions have become a more pronounced part of older life. On the other hand, it is becoming less of a challenge to live with these medical conditions. Therefore, older people are now in the best position ever to manage them on a day-to-day basis.
It’s important for us all to understand the most common medical conditions, so that we are more prepared to deal with them if diagnosed. This includes understanding the condition itself, its symptoms, and the treatments available. Furthermore, we should understand how to prevent common illnesses and how to live with them.
Here’s our guide to the most common medical conditions that tend to affect older people.
13. Motor Neurone Disease
Motor neurone disease is a rare neurological condition where the nervous system degenerates over time. It leads to muscle weakness and loss of mobility. Motor neurone disease, also known as ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), occurs when motor neurons that control activities like walking and speaking stop working.
- Difficulty swallowing (and sometimes excessive drooling).
A weakened grip, usually first noticed in one hand.
Small twitches and flickers of movement, known as ‘fasciculations’.
Difficulty speaking or slurred speech, known as ‘dysarthria’.
14. Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive condition which damages and affects parts of the brain. The NHS estimates that there are around 130,000 people in the US living with Parkinson’s disease. That’s 1 in every 500 people.
15. Paget’s Disease of the Bone
Paget’s disease of the bone disrupts the normal cycle of bone renewal. It’s triggered by a flaw in the bone cell regeneration system, which causes bone weakness and even bone deformity.
Paget’s disease is a common bone condition that affects the pelvis, spine and other areas of the body. It is a very common condition in the US, mostly affecting people over the age of 50. The condition affects 8% of men and 5% of women by the age of 80.
Having a stroke can be life-threatening if you don’t seek medical attention straight away. A stroke will occur when the blood supply to a part of your brain is cut off. Without blood, brain cells can be damaged and may even die.
Strokes are particularly common among older people. The average age for suffering a stroke is 74 for men in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For women, this is slightly higher, with the average being 80. Across the US, strokes are a leading cause of disability, with around two thirds of all survivors being left with a disability.
It’s very important to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke. The sooner you and your loved ones react, the less complications there will be afterwards. As mentioned, strokes can be life-threatening so it’s important for treatment to begin as soon as possible. Memorise the signs of a stroke with the word F.A.S.T:
Face – The person may be unable to smile and their face may have dropped on one side, with their mouth or eye drooping.
Arms – The person may be unable to lift both arms and keep them there.
Speech – The person may suffer from slurred or garbled speech, or may be unable to talk at all.
Time – Don’t waste any time! Dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
17. Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is quite common among older people here in the UK. There are sevearl other medical conditions which affect the kidneys and can lead to chronic kidney disease. These conditions include kidney infections, high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney inflammation.
18. Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot in your deep veins, most commonly in one of your legs. This condition is most common in people over the age of 40, and can also lead to further complications, including pulmonary embolism.
Shingles is a skin condition which is very common among older people, especially those over the age of 70. This is due to the fact that your body’s immune system becomes weaker as you age.
This medical condition is caused by the same virus which causes chickenpox, and only those who have had chickenpox can develop shingles. The infection will cause a painful rash or blisters to form on your skin, which may become extremely itchy.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance which is created by your liver and is also found in some foods. Lipoproteins in the blood carry cholesterol around the body. There are two types of lipoproteins: low density and high density. You might have heard of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol – ‘good’ refers to high density lipoproteins while ‘bad’ refers to low density.
Having high cholesterol is bad for your health. A number of lifestyle choices and medical conditions can lead to high cholesterol. These include:
- An unhealthy diet.
- High blood pressure.
- A family history of stroke or heart disease.