Thanks to advancements in healthcare, people are living longer than ever. In the United States, seniors who are more than 85 years old now comprise one of the fastest growing demographic groups, according to a 2018 Census report. While many older adults are living rich and full lives, their advanced age does make them prone to getting a number of health issues.
For instance, the following three health concerns are common in seniors.
About every 40 seconds in the United States someone will have a myocardial infarction—commonly known as a heart attack, according to the American College of Cardiology. The average age for a first heart attack is 65 for men and 72 for women. While these statistics are definitely concerning, there are steps that seniors can take to reduce their risk. Some of the most common lifestyle and risk factors for cardiovascular disease include smoking, obesity and high cholesterol. For people of any age who smoke, the sooner you can quit, the better it is for your heart. Try to get your weight under control and have yearly cholesterol screenings to make sure your numbers are not getting into the danger zone; if they are, work with your physician to reduce your readings—this may include diet, exercise and medications.
Age is the biggest risk factor for getting cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Sixty percent of people who have cancer are age 65 or older—fortunately, so are 60 percent of cancer survivors. Keeping up with preventative screenings is important; for instance, many physicians recommend that people have their first colonoscopy at age 50 and then every 10 years after that (as long as no polyps are found). Routine mammograms, well-women health checks and prostate exams can help detect issues when they are very new; this can increase your chances of surviving a cancer diagnosis.
In addition to concerns about developing cancer, some older adults are equally, if not more, worried about how they may pay for treatment. Even the best insurance policies may not cover all of the costly chemotherapy sessions, radiation therapy, medications and follow-up appointments. Along with staying on top of routine cancer screenings, seniors may want to get their financial ducks in a row when they are still healthy and can formulate an action plan. For example, if you are senior and have concerns about how you would pay for a sudden surge of medical costs, you could look into the option of selling your life insurance policy. Coventry Direct is a company that offers life settlement plans and helps older adults to get access to the money in their life insurance policy when they need it the most, such as when they need to pay for expensive yet vital medical care.
Arthritis is another common health issue in older adults; the most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which affects about 31 million Americans. By the year 2040, Arthritis.org notes, more than 78 million people are expected to have “doctor-diagnosed” arthritis. Arthritis is more common in people who have some other types of health issues; for instance, 49 percent of adults who have heart disease also have arthritis, and 31 percent who are obese have been diagnosed with this often-painful condition. Fortunately, there are steps seniors can take to reduce their chances of developing arthritis—maintaining a healthy weight will help lessen the risk of osteoarthritis, and quitting smoking is a key factor in avoiding rheumatoid arthritis.
Avoid Being Part of These Statistics
The aforementioned information is not meant to scare seniors in any way—just because someone is above 55 does not guarantee that they will fall ill with any of these health concerns. But as the saying goes, education is power, so knowing what some common health issues are in older people as well as how to prevent them and have a plan ready to go to pay for treatment is crucial.