Aging is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean it should be something to dread. Though getting older can be a scary thought for some, taking the right steps while you age can make your experience a positive one.
If your back starts aching or your vision gets a little blurred, chalking it up to aging is not always the best medicine. The best way to prevent common issues as you edge into your senior years is to know what to expect and be prepared.
According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), people are living longer now than ever before. Soon the world will see more people over the age of 65 than children under the age of 5. This fact means proper elder care needs to become a top priority.
What to Watch Out For
As you age, you’re bound to encounter the occasional health issue. But how complicated these issues may be to deal with can rely a lot on your level of preparation. By understanding the most common problems, you can be better equipped to combat them if they occur.
- Arthritis: This can occur when the cartilage between your joints wears away over time. It may result in aches and pains in areas like your back, hips, knees, hands, and feet. Common causes include overuse, obesity, previous injuries, genetic predisposition, and smoking.
- Osteoporosis: The process of your bones breaking down at a faster rate than they can repair themselves, often leading to a higher risk of broken bones. As symptoms are not always apparent, you may not know you have it until a bump or fall causes a break or a bruise. Common causes include gender (women are more prone than men), lifestyle, and low vitamin D or calcium levels.
- Diabetes: A disease that occurs when the body cannot produce enough—or any—insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Symptoms may include extreme hunger or thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, or tiredness. Common causes include genetic predisposition, obesity, diet, and lifestyle.
- Vision Impairments: This can come in many forms, including conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma, but can be generally summed up as the break down of eyesight over time due to aging. Symptoms can include blurred or double vision, spots, floaters, sudden pain, or redness. Common causes include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and trauma to the eye.
- Depression: Seniors tend to have smaller circles of close friends and family as they age, which can sometimes lead to negative emotional repercussions based on fewer interactions with the outside world. Symptoms may include listlessness, self-imposed seclusion, stress, and anxiety. These can all lead to feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, boredom, or sadness.
Though not all diseases are preventable, that doesn't mean you shouldn’t take still take preventive measures. By building up good habits, you can keep yourself healthy for much longer, leaving you more time for the people you love, and the passions you enjoy. Some examples of ways to prevent disease or promote good health as you age include:
- Regular check-ups with your doctor. Increase your chances for early diagnosis by visiting your doctor on a regular basis. If you notice changes in your body or habits, it might be worth it to book an appointment. A yearly physical can also help you track changes from year to year so that your physician has a better chance of catching signs of disease early. Additionally, if you or a loved one are currently working with elder care services, be sure to let care providers know about any symptoms that arise, so records are always up to date.
- Engage in healthy eating habits. A diet can be a critical preventative measure for some aging-related diseases. Making healthy choices can help your body in all sorts of ways. Ensure you are eating foods that are rich in nutrients and best for your digestive health.
- Maintain close connections. It's unfortunately all too easy to lose track of friends and stop calling family. By keeping those you love close, you're better set to live a happier, healthier life. And don't be afraid to make new friends along the way by joining social clubs or taking up a new hobby.
- Break bad habits. Vices like cigarettes and alcohol can have serious negative consequences for your health. By quitting smoking or limiting alcohol consumption, your risk for health problems decreases. Say goodbye to lung and liver issues, and put your health first.
- Build a routine. It's easy to fall into a rut if you let time slip away from you. By building a manageable regimen, you can prevent your days from blending. Time doesn't need to be scheduled to the second, but make sure to mark time on your calendar for the things that matter. Whether it's your weekly trip to the grocery store or a phone call to a friend, pencil it in and hold yourself to it.
So it's Not All Bad?
Aging doesn't need to be filled with frets and fears. Understanding how it affects you is the first step in early prevention. Taking action on the first signs of any symptoms you see is the second. Preparedness and prevention go hand in hand when it comes to your health! So stop worrying about everything that could go wrong and start taking the right actions now that will ensure nothing does.