Many seniors deal with several health problems related to aging. Patients managing chronic disease, complex health concerns and pain quite often are not getting enough sleep. Sleep patterns change with aging, and because of sleep disorders or sleep disturbances, older adults do not get healthy deep sleep. Common sleep disorders can include having trouble falling asleep, restlessness during the night, inability to tell night from day, and waking up too early in the morning. Some common health issues that prevent seniors from getting healthy sleep include chronic pain (e.g. arthritis), substance abuse, depression, neurological problems, diet, and nutrition.
Aging heightens onset for thyroid disease. Thyroid disease may elevate risks factors for high cholesterol, heart disease, osteoporosis and reduced cognitive function. Thyroid disease may be difficult to detect or may be wrongly attributed to existing chronic disease. There are two types of diagnoses for the disease. When the thyroid produces too much hormone it’s called hyperthyroid. If too little hormone is made, it’s called hypothyroid. Hypothyroidism is much more common in the elderly population, and older women particularly are at risk with 1 in 5 women over the age of 65 having hypothyroidism.
Drug and alcohol abuse among the elderly is a rapidly growing health problem in the United States. Addiction among seniors 65 and older is often underestimated and underdiagnosed, which can prevent them from getting the help they need. Drug or alcohol abuse among older adults is particularly alarming because seniors are more susceptible to the deteriorating effects of these substances.
Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and weakens the bones to where they become fragile and easily broken. Osteoporosis is often called a "silent" disease because bone loss occurs without symptoms. Bones slowly and subtly lose density, becoming weaker over time. More than 50 million Americans either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass. Although osteoporosis may be diagnosed at any age, it is mostly a disease of aging and predominantly affects older women. Osteoporosis generally isn’t discovered until there is a sudden fall or strain that leads to a broken bone or stress fracture.
Many things can affect the risk of falling, such as a patient’s balance, weakened eyesight, uneven flooring, stairs, furniture arrangement, and home accessibility. A broken bone resulting from a fall can limit mobility and have a major impact on a patient’s quality of life. Patients may feel an emotional as well as physical weight following a diagnosis of osteoporosis. Thus, they may experience bouts of depression, anxiety, or weariness caused by effects of the disease. Those most affected by the disease may be afraid to leave their homes or participate in previously enjoyed daily activities fearing injury.
Each day, our bodies lose about two to three quarts of water. However, many people aren't getting the proper amount of water, and non-sugary drinks their bodies require, which can cause dehydration and several related health concerns. Older adults, particularly those with complex care needs managing multiple medications (e.g. diuretic) should stay mindful of drinking enough water each day. Adequate water intake allows the body to regulate temperature through sweating, maintain blood pressure and eliminate bodily waste. If severe enough, dehydration can lead to urinary tract infections, disorientation, imbalance and muscle weakness, chronic dry-mouth, pneumonia, bedsores and dry skin or even death.