Aging can bring on a host of issues, some of which may change every aspect of one’s life. Some issues are more common than others, and some have more detrimental effects than others. By learning about these issues, you and your loved one can avoid being caught off guard. Below are three common aging disorders to be aware of so you can plan for the future.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease common among seniors. Bones become thinner with age, hard bones turn spongy, and the condition progresses into osteoporosis. People who have osteoporosis are at risk of breaking bones – especially in the hip, spine, and wrist.
Statistics show that about 54 million Americans are struggling with osteoporosis or low bone mass. One in two women and up to one in four men aged 50 and older have low bone mass, increasing their risk for bone breaks and osteoporosis. Bone density tests are a good idea for anyone above age 50.
Osteoporosis is painful. Some patients experience severe damage to vertebrae, leading to stooped or hunched posture, and loss in height. In extreme cases, osteoporosis leads to loss of mobility and independence, which can cause feelings of isolation or severe depression.
Many risk factors are attributed to bone loss and osteoporosis. Some of them can be prevented, but other cannot be changed. Following good nutrition, exercising regularly, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and visiting a doctor for regular checkups can help slow the disease’s onset.
Macular degeneration is an incurable eye condition caused by aging, due to the deterioration of the macula – the most sensitive part of the retina. The primary function of a retina is to record images in the eye and send them to the brain for translation. The macula controls the central vision of the eye, which is responsible for focusing every image that the eye receives.
Macular degeneration commonly affects seniors aged 50 and older, and is the leading cause of elderly vision loss. Many people start to experience vision loss in their late 50s and usually attribute it to the normal aging process, when it could actually be macular degeneration.
One can take preventable steps to reduce the risk of the condition from advancing. The early stage includes a gradual worsening of vision that occurs to one or both eyes before the macular degeneration kicks in. Therefore, it is important for the elderly to attend regular eye exams to prevent the development of this debilitating disease.
In advanced stages, one’s quality of life declines as vision becomes blurred or distorted. Every activity that requires sight becomes a challenging task to undertake, from driving to cooking. Loss of eyesight in one or both eyes is also possible in advanced conditions. Macular degeneration is worse than cataracts and glaucoma, and every possible precaution should be taken to prevent its advancement.
Dementia is a very general term for the deterioration of mental ability that is severe enough to affect daily life. It is not a specific disease, but mainly describes a group of symptoms and psychological conditions associated with a decline in memory or cognitive skills. Alzheimer’s disease is responsible for most dementia cases.
Symptoms of dementia include:
- Memory loss
- Communication and language difficulties
- Loss of ability to stay focused
- Poor reasoning and unsound judgment
- Poor visual perception.
With such severe changes in the normal functionality of the brain due to brain cell damage, other serious side effects may occur, including: anxiety and depression, isolation, paranoia, lack of personal care, and inappropriate or erratic behavior. It is challenging to take care of people in such conditions, but resources are available to assist during the difficult ordeal.
What You Can Do
Aging gracefully is a blessing but comes with its own baggage — sometimes in the form of dementia, macular degeneration, or osteoporosis. In case your loved one suffers from such a condition, always ensure that they have a way to call for help in case of medical emergencies.
A medical alert system is one way to provide your elderly loved one with the assistance they need in case of emergencies. A wearable pendant or wristband provides an emergency button to access immediate response for everything from health emergencies to fire rescue. Medical alert systems offer many different features, so be sure to read medical alert system reviews to learn about the options before you purchase.
In advanced stages of these critical conditions, professional healthcare services are an important option to consider. Assisted living options are also available for loved ones who need minimal daily assistance, or those who are entirely unable to care for themselves. Explore all of your options before making the big decision for your loved one.