HEALTH COMPLAINTS IN THE ELDERLY

Getting older can seem daunting­: graying hair, wrinkles, forgetting where you parked the car. All jokes aside, aging can bring about unique health issues. At the biological level, ageing follows the impact of the accumulation of a multiplicity of molecular and cellular damage at a snail’s pace. This evokes a gradual decrease in physical and mental capacity, a growing risk of disease and ultimately, death. The diversity seen in older age is not random. The amount of body complaints is higher for women than for men.  Beyond biological changes, ageing is often associated with other life transitions such as retirement, relocation to more appropriate housing and the death of friends and partners.

Older adults aged 60 or above, make important contributions to society as family members, volunteers and as active participants in the workforce. While most have good mental health, many older adults are at risk of developing mental disorders manifesting as dementia, depression, psychosis, among others as well as other health conditions including the following;

Chronic health conditions: During ageing, your cardiovascular system goes through changes. Blood vessels and arteries may start to stiffen, causing your heart to work harder to pump blood. The heart then adjusts to the increased workload. These changes increase your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and other heart-related diseases.

Musculo-skeletal conditions.  As you age, your bones shrink and become less dense. This makes them weaker and more likely to fracture if you become injured. Muscles also lose strength, flexibility, and endurance. All of these can negatively impact your balance, coordination, and stability.

Bladder and urinary tract. The bladder becomes less elastic with increased age. This creates the feeling that you need to urinate more often. Your bladder and pelvic floor muscles also weaken. It can then be more difficult to empty your bladder completely. This can produce an uncomfortable sensation and make going to the bathroom unsatisfying.

Memory and cognitive skills. A decline in memory or cognitive skills can take a few different forms. Elderly people may forget people’s names, have trouble recalling information or facts and have difficulty multitasking.

Sexuality. Sometimes as women age, they experience vaginal dryness which can make sex uncomfortable. Men may have a more difficult time obtaining an erection and it may not be as firm.

Teeth. Some people notice that their gums start to pull back from their teeth as they age. Certain medications, like those used to treat high blood pressure or high cholesterol, may cause dry mouth. These factors make it more likely that you’ll experience tooth decay or infection as you age.

Malnutrition. In older adults over the age of 65 is often underdiagnosed and can lead to other elderly health issues, such as a weakened immune system and muscle weakness. You can also expect your digestive system to change as you age, especially in your large intestine. This can lead to increased instances of constipation. Certain medications, lack of exercise, and not drinking enough water may contribute to more frequent, severe, or problematic bowel movements.

Skin. Your skin goes through numerous changes as you get older. Your skin will become thinner, less elastic, and more fragile. You may also experience a decrease in natural oils, making your skin drier. As a result, you’re more likely to bruise, have wrinkles, or age spots. You may also develop skin tags, which are generally harmless small growths on your skin.

Eyes and ears. Sensory impairments, such as vision and hearing, are extremely common for the seniors over the age of 70. It’s normal for your vision to worsen as you age. You might be more sensitive to glare, find it challenging to see in the dark and experience clouded vision also known as cataracts. Your hearing may also diminish with age making it difficult to hear high-pitched noises or follow conversations in a noisy crowd.



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