By 2050, the American 85 years old and over population will triple. Clinicians and the public health community need to develop a culture of sensitivity to the needs of this population and its subgroups. Sensory changes, cognitive changes, and weakness may be subtle or may be severe in the heterogeneous population of people over age 85.
Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen considerable media coverage about the risk of COVID-19 to older people. Elderly individuals are also disproportionately affected by social distancing policies and other restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, resulting in increased loneliness, social isolation, and loss of freedom and support networks.
Here’s more common medical conditions that tend to affect older people.
7. Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary heart disease is one of the leading causes of death here in the US. According to the NHS, coronary heart disease (CHD) is what happens when fatty substances build up in the arteries, blocking the blood supply to the heart.
Dementia is a progressive disorder that affects memory and overall brain function. It is more common in older people, affecting around 1 in 14 people over 65. This increases to 1 in 6 people over the age of 80.
The most common and well-known kind of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Vascular dementia is another type of dementia that develops as a result of a stroke or blood vessel deterioration.
Older people are susceptible to developing diabetes. In fact, half of all people with diabetes in the US are over 65. Diabetes is a lifelong condition, caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin. It affects an astonishing 3.9 million people here in the United Kingdom.
Among the older population, type 2 diabetes is a growing problem, and a larger proportion of newly diagnosed diabetics are from the older generation. In fact, one in 10 people over 40 are now living with the condition. To help avoid Type 2 diabetes, the NHS encourages the following lifestyle changes:
- Healthy eating – Increasing the amount of fibre and reducing sugar and fat intake.
- Losing weight – Do this by gradually reducing calorie intake and becoming more physically active.
- Exercising regularly – It is important to keep active by completing both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.