Cancer and disease are ailments that can affect young generations or older generations. However, many illnesses generally affect the elderly population. Considering the rise in health conditions for people over 65, there are several illnesses that specifically target this age group.
A key way to reduce the likelihood of developing cancer or disease is through awareness. No matter what your age is, prevention can start now. If you believe you may be at risk because of family genetics, environment, or detrimental habits, you should take precautions now to avoid sickness later in life. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and making choices that will benefit you long term is essential.
Five serious illnesses that afflict the elderly demographic are listed below. Along with this, suggestions for prevention and information surrounding each condition gives you the details you need to maintain your health properly, as you age.
Kidney disease also referred to as chronic kidney failure is the inability of your kidneys to filter blood, fluid, and other waste that pass through your body. The body’s natural process of disposing of any excess discharge is undermined. We know that organs are vital to the human body, and the kidney is no exception.
If the kidney cannot properly eliminate waste, then this disease can spread to other areas of your body. Since your kidneys allow disposal through urination, fluid retention is an unfortunate symptom. Arms and legs may swell and it can also lead to high blood pressure. Kidney failure is also linked to cardiovascular disease and may cause bones to weaken. Your immune system is also impacted, making infections more frequent and potentially life-threatening. If your kidney fails completely, you will need an organ transplant or dialysis to survive.
- Quitting smoking
- Ensuring you are eating well to avoid obesity
- Knowing your family history and if kidney disease is common
- Keeping up-to-date on medical records and visiting your annual doctor visits to stay on top of your health
- Being responsible with medication, which if misused, could impair your kidneys
Another disease that commonly affects the senior community is mesothelioma–a type of cancer that is wholly preventable. Asbestos is the predominant cause of mesothelioma. This microscopic fiber when left untouched and untroubled is harmless but becomes deadly when it can be inhaled. Unfortunately, if a person ingests asbestos in the body, it is almost impossible to remove, and if it attaches to one of your organs it can become cancerous over time.
You may be diagnosed with one of four types of mesothelioma. However, pleural mesothelioma prevails as the most common type, where the tumors grow in the lining of the lungs. Mesothelioma is alarming because it is usually not detected until the late stages, and there is often a discouraging prognosis. Asbestos was manufactured in many products before the 1980s until the United States limited use to only 1 percent in products and materials. Despite the regulations, that 1 percent is still hazardous if you inhale it. Lung cancer and asbestosis (respiratory issues following exposure) are also potential outcomes.
- Asbestos abatement in your home or workplace
- Keeping away from any asbestos
- Hiring professionals to eliminate any fibers
- Wearing respirator masks and following protocol on job sites
There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Both are diseases where people’s blood glucose is above average, raising the alarm that there is something off with the body’s insulin intake or production. The food you eat can affect your blood glucose and sugar levels. People with diabetes are required to regularly take insulin to control this abnormality. Type 1 may be a result of an autoimmune disease where the body cannot produce insulin, while type 2 typically appears later in life and though the body still makes insulin, the cells cannot easily accept it.
The latter represents around 90% of the diabetes population. According to the Center for Disease Control, “your body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels.” Unlike type 1, type 2 is entirely preventable. Globally, about 23.1 million adults over the age of 65 have prediabetes: an indicator of type 2 diabetes. While people who are diagnosed with prediabetes do not yet have diabetes, they have high blood sugar levels that are dangerously close to those with type 2 diabetes.
- Keeping a healthy weight
- Being aware of a family history of diabetes
- Watching your blood pressure
- Staying active
- Going to doctor appointments, especially as type 2 risk increases as you age
- Limiting alcohol intake
Heart disease is primarily caused by atherosclerosis, where the walls of arteries become clogged with plaque. When this happens, blood flow is constricted. Once blood clots, you are susceptible to a heart attack or stroke. Heart attacks are caused when arteries connected to the heart are blocked. When the parts of the heart are deprived of blood, they can die and make you vulnerable to heart failure.
Similarly, heart failure means that the heart is still working, but the body is not receiving the vital amounts of blood and oxygen. Strokes work the same way as heart attacks, but they damage the brain.
- Medication prescribed by a doctor to manage these diseases
- Preventing diabetes
- Quitting smoking
- Seeking help for drug addiction
- Relieving stress
- Being careful to not overindulge in caffeine and alcohol
Even if you are healthy today, you should always err on the side of caution to protect your health down the road. In all of these examples, disease and cancer are more effectively prevented when you take action now. Whether it be keeping a healthy diet, doing daily exercise, or remaining wary of common toxins and carcinogens, you can take control of your health.
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