Aging and health are two topics that are often thought of together, as health is an integral part of a senior’s quality of life. Understanding common health issues seniors face and how preventive care can help with those issues can make a difference as the mind and body change.
Keeping a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise is key to maintaining good health as a senior, as is seeing a medical professional regularly. Read on to learn more about what you can do to maintain your health as a senior.
Common Health Issues for Seniors
Many health issues become more prevalent in older adults, but some can do more harm than others. It is important to learn about these conditions and how they can affect a senior’s health and way of life. Of the common conditions, the ones that can affect a senior the most are chronic conditions and diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Cardiovascular disease is expected to rise as the adult population ages in the United States. Cardiovascular conditions such as coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, heart failure and stroke are especially burdensome on the health and finances of senior citizens. These diseases can be seriously detrimental to a senior’s health, but they can be prevented and managed with effective treatments.
In the U.S., type 2 diabetes has become more and more widespread, especially in older adults. Diabetes poses a significant health risk, as it can also cause other conditions and diseases to arise. Higher blood glucose levels are linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular conditions. A healthy diet, regular exercise and weight loss plan set up by a doctor can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in seniors.
Bodily pains and aches are also common in seniors. Sometimes these aches and pains are more than just a symptom of aging. Arthritis in seniors is common, but it is a serious condition that frequently causes physical disability in older adults. Although pain is a typical symptom of arthritis, not everyone suffering from the condition feels pain, so it is important to know other symptoms to look out for.
One of the health conditions most commonly associated with seniors is the loss of cognitive functions. There are a few types of dementia, each with its own set of symptoms. While dementia is typical in older adults, it should be understood that it is not a normal part of the aging process and can range in severity.
Preventive Health Care for Seniors
As an individual ages, preventive care becomes increasingly important to his or her health and wellness. The goal of preventive health care services is to prevent illness and detected diseases early on when treatment is most effective. While these services are potentially life-saving for seniors, more than half of Americans aged 65 years of age or older do not receive necessary preventive health care services. The Affordable Care Act requires that most health insurance companies, including Medicare, Medicaid and Marketplace plans, provide essential preventive care screenings and procedures at no cost to the insurance subscriber. These procedures are typically only free when provided by an in-network doctor on the patient’s plan.
While preventative care methods are offered to all individuals, some screenings and services are only available to certain age or gender groups. Aside from the services provided to all adults, seniors also have some important age-specific screenings available to them. These services aim to detect or reduce the risk of some of the health issues more commonly seen in older adults.
Seniors who are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes are eligible to receive a yearly diabetes screening. Women older than 60 years of age may receive a bone density test to prevent or delay osteoporosis, which affects older women disproportionately. Some services available to all ages are also important for seniors, such as regular yearly checkups and immunization vaccines.
In the United States, millions of seniors receive health insurance coverage through the Medicare program. Medicare is a federally run health insurance program for seniors 65 years of age or older and those with certain disabilities younger than 65. It is intended to cover only a portion of a recipient’s medical expenses and does not cover most long-term care costs.
There are four Medicare coverage options including Part A, B, C and D. Each part offers different kinds of coverage. Medicare Part A offers hospital insurance coverage, while Part B offers regular medical insurance coverage. Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage plans, combines much of the coverage offered by both Part A and B. These plans are offered by private health care organizations that are contracted by Medicare. Part D, which is commonly called Medicare prescription drug coverage, is available to those who are enrolled in either Medicare Part A or B. Those enrolled in Medicare Part C are not eligible for Part D, as Part D benefits are usually built into Medicare Advantage plans.
Eligibility for Medicare is determined according to a few factors. Seniors who are 65 years of age or older and receive Social Security benefits are eligible for Medicare. Seniors may begin applying for Medicare up to 3 months before turning 65 years old but may still apply up to 3 months after their birth month, allowing prospective applicants a 7-month enrollment window.
Healthy Living for Seniors
Maintaining good health is an important undertaking for older adults. While seeking professional medical care is the most vital part of a senior’s health care plan, there are many things that can be done at home to live healthily and improve general wellness. Living a healthy lifestyle as a senior is not only beneficial, it is crucial, as maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help prevent or delay the onset of many illnesses common in older adults.
Exercise is a key part of leading a healthy lifestyle, especially for seniors. Seniors who exercise are less likely to develop chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Exercise also decreases the likelihood of injury due to falls.
Maintaining a healthy diet as a senior is just as important as exercise. Many seniors suffer from malnutrition, which can lead to poor health and an increase in the risk of developing chronic illnesses. Malnutrition also causes the body to weaken, which makes older adults more prone to fractures and injuries sustained from falls. As the body ages, it loses its ability to use nutrients efficiently, so eating healthily is an important factor in making sure older adults receive the vital nutrients their bodies need.