Senior Health (cont.)

What are the most common diseases and conditions seniors face as they age?

Medical problems in the elderly can involve any organ system in the body. Most conditions result from decreased function or degeneration of the involved organ.

Most commonly encountered medical conditions in seniors based on organ system are listed below:

  • Musculoskeletal: osteoarthritis (inflammation of joints due to wear and tear), osteoporosis (bone loss), gout, loss of muscle mass, fractures.
  • Hormonal: Diabetes (impaired control of blood glucose), menopause, thyroid dysfunction, high blood cholesterol, slower overall metabolism.
  • Neurologic: dementia (Alzheimer or other types), Parkinson's disease, strokes, poor vision, hearing impairment, balance problem.
  • Visual: macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetes and hypertension related eye disease.
  • Cardiovascular disease: heart attacks, congestive heart failure, irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation), high blood pressure (hypertension), atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of blood vessels) and peripheral vascular disease or peripheral artery disease (poor blood flow as a result of narrow blood vessels).
  • Lungs: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), loss of lung volume.
  • Kidneys: poor kidney function (kidney or renal disease) from long standing diabetes and hypertension.
  • Skin and Hair: hair loss, dry skin, itching, infections.
  • Cancers: prostate, colon, lung, breast, skin, bladder, ovary, brain, pancreas, only to name a few.
  • Bone marrow and immune system: inability to produce sufficient blood cells (anemia, myelodysplasia).
  • Gastrointestinal: stomach ulcers, diverticulosis (small pockets forming in the wall of colon), colon inflammation or colitis from infection or ischemic (poor blood flow) , swallowing difficulty (dysphagia) , constipation, bowel incontinence, hemorrhoids.
  • Urinary: urinary incontinence, urinary urgency, difficulty urinating.
  • Oral and dental: gum disease, dry mouth, loss of teeth, poorly fitting dentures.
  • Infections: urinary tract infection, pneumonia, skin infection, shingles, colon infection (diverticulitis, colitis).
  • Psychiatric: depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, insomnia.
  • General problems: fatigue, general deconditioning, forgetfulness, medication side effects, diminished appetite, weight loss, falls.

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