3 common health problems facing seniors

Carelike Team | | April 19, 2016

Americans are continually entering retirement age. In fact, according to 2013 statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, the U.S. was home to 44.7 million adults 65 and older. With 14.1 percent of the population made up of seniors, it's clear that the health care industry is tending for many aging bodies. That means medical professionals, from doctors to home health aides, must remain aware of common health issues related to seniors. Here are a few to keep in mind:

1. Obesity
Being overweight is one of the most common challenges impacting seniors. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that between 2007-2010, 34.6 percent of seniors were obese. This condition is linked to a number of issues, including diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, difficulty breathing and sleep apnea, among others. 

Seniors face unique obstacles with their weight compared to the general population. Not only is extra weight harder on their bodies, but seniors also have additional risk factors. As Everyday Health explained, older adults experience slower metabolisms, especially those who don't exercise. Additionally, even though they may require fewer calories based on their sedentary lifestyle, seniors may continue eating the same way they always have, leading to weight gain.

As a health care professional, it's important to provide nutrition and exercise consultation to your senior clients. Additionally, encourage them to remain active, as this can help them maintain a healthy weight and overall well-being.

2. Arthritis
A disease often associated with age, arthritis is a major problem among seniors, Dr. Marie Bernard of Maryland's National Institute on Aging told Everyday Health.

"Arthritis is probably the number one condition that people 65 or older contend with," she said.

Nearly half of the older adult population lives with this painful disease. Between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, the latter is most common among seniors, and it can cause stiffness that makes mobility difficult. While this discomfort can be discouraging, geriatric caretakers should do their best to keep their older clients moving. According to the National Institutes of Health, a combination of exercise, a well-balanced diet and joint protection (like proper-fitting shoes and mobility assistance devices) can contribute to an effective treatment plan.

 

Male nurse talking to patient.Senior clients may need canes to stay mobile.

3. Depression
Many people don't realize that depression is actually a prevalent health issue among seniors. Intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness and fatigue are not a normal component of aging, regardless of what your client and his or her family may believe. In fact, seniors who do not receive treatment for depression may even commit suicide, according to the NIH.

Many seniors have difficulty adjusting to shifting family roles and may feel isolated, as not working provides less opportunities to socialize. As a health care provider, it's important to identify symptoms of depression in your senior clients. These may include feeling tired and anxious, being unable to focus, an inability to sleep or staying in bed too long, and experiencin