Most common long term health conditions for the elderly

Senior woman looking at paperwork with caregiver

What are the 12 most common long term health conditions for the elderly?

Asthma

Asthma is when your airways are sensitive to something in the air and get inflamed. This causes the airways to tighten and narrow making it hard for you to breathe. This can in turn cause an Asthma Attack. Asthma is normally quite simple to treat with an inhaler to manage attacks and ease your chest tightness. This is a long term health condition which can occur in any stage of life from new-born through to the elderly. Find out more on the NHS website.

Cancer

Cancer can come in many different forms, in fact, there are over 200 types of Cancer. This can be a long term health condition or a short-lived disease which is cured and managed well. In other cases, this can be life-threatening. Still, this is one of the most common medical conditions. Cancer is a disease where cells in the human body multiply abnormally and cause a mass known as a tumour. Always be checking for lumps, and if you find a lump which feels abnormal, have unexpected weight loss or find blood in stool, urine, when coughing or vomiting be sure to get it checked. 1 out of 2 people will develop a form of cancer in their lifetime. If you have any queries, visit the Cancer Research website.

COPD

COPD is one of the most common long term health conditions. COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. This is when you get breathing problems over a long period of time which results in Emphysema (damage to air sacs in lungs) or Chronic Bronchitis (long term inflammation of the airways). This can be worsened by long-term exposure to harmful fumes, heavy smoking over a long period, or rare genetic diseases. Although this condition isn’t reversible, there are ways that you can slow down the progression. This could be with inhalers or medicine, pulmonary rehabilitation and living a healthier lifestyle. For more information visit the British Lung Foundation website, which highlights a way to conquer these medical problems.

Dementia

Dementia affects 1 in 14 people over 65. This increases to 1 in 6 people over the age of 80.

It is a long term health condition which affects memory and brain function, progressing over time. The most common types of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Symptoms of dementia vary but include difficulty in remembering recent events, problems in conversation, difficulty judging distances, forgetting the date and where you are. More symptoms are listed on the Dementia website to highlight why this is one of the most common medical conditions. Sometimes medical problems like Dementia can derive from trauma to the brain from an accident of another health condition.

Symptoms of diabetes infographic

Diabetes

Elderly people are susceptible to diabetes, with over half of all people with diabetes in the UK over the age of 65. Diabetes is a long term health condition caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin. One in 10 people over 40 are now living with this medical problem.

Type 2 Diabetes is managed with tablets whereas type 1 results in injecting insulin and closely monitoring blood sugars. To help avoid Diabetes, the NHS guidelines say the best way is to make three simple lifestyle changes. These include healthy eating if you’re overweight lose weight and exercise regularly to keep insulin levels balanced as well as increasing your metabolic rate.

For the full list of symptoms, head to the Diabetes UK website.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that causes seizures and most often affects either young children or the elderly. Every day, 87 people are diagnosed with the condition and one in four people with epilepsy are over the age of 65. Epilepsy can be caused by many different things including strokes, tumours or infection. A Fall Detector can be particularly useful for epilepsy sufferers. Here the pendant or wristband detects a fall that often follows a seizure, it will then automatically alert the response team immediately to send help.

Causes of heard disease infographic

Heart Disease

The most common symptoms of heart disease are chest pains (Angina) and/or severe breathlessness. If your coronary arteries become blocked it can cause Angina. Angina is often triggered by stress or physical activity and can lead the patient with heaviness and/or tightening in the centre of the chest. This can then travel out to the limbs, jaw, back or stomach.

This long term health condition for the elderly is usually treatable with medication and lifestyle changes.

Angina can lead to heart attacks when the coronary arteries become fully blocked, this is also known as a myocardial infarction. Symptoms include pain travelling to other parts of your body, feeling lightheaded/faint, sweating, nausea, breathlessness. If you or your loved one ever experience this call 999 immediately as heart attacks can be fatal.

For causes in more detail, please head over to the NHS website.

Hypertension

Hypertension is also known as High Blood Pressure and is a long term health condition that affects people from young adults through to the elderly. This is a progressive condition that can lead to Heart Disease (as seen above), Heart Attacks, Kidney Disease, Strokes and many other long term health conditions seen in the elderly. Lifestyle changes to reduce your blood pressure include not smoking, cutting down on alcohol consumption, losing weight if you’re overweight, cutting down on caffeine intake, and exercising regularly.

Always keep track of your blood pressure to make sure it’s within the normal range. You can do this by buying a blood pressure monitor. To find out what your results mean, check out this healthy guide on the NHS website.

Loss of sight

In the UK there are around 2 million people living with sight loss and 360k of these are registered blind or partially sighted. There are many resources and useful guides on how to manage this from the UK’s leading charity, Royal National Institute of Blind People.

Ways to cope with sight loss include making adjustments around the home. You can make life easier for you or your loved one by choosing brighter lighting, keeping the house tidy and clear of trip hazards and most importantly buying a personal alarm. We have a massive range of personal alarms for use in the home, and out and about, with many great features that give you safety and peace of mind. View our personal alarm range here.

Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

One of the most common long term health conditions for the elderly is Arthritis. The two main types are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis with Osteoarthritis being the most common condition. This is caused by overuse, and wear and tear, on our joints creating nodules and seized joints over time. Nearly 9 million people suffer with it in the UK, and it is most common in those over the age of 40.

On the other hand, Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto-immune disease affecting more than 400,000 people in the UK. This is when the immune system attacks the lining of the joints, causing the joints to become swollen and painful.

Parkinson’s Disease

There are about 130,000 people living with Parkinson’s Disease in the UK. This is another of the most common long term health conditions for the elderly. Parkinson’s is caused most commonly by a reduction of nerve cells in the ‘substantia nigra’ (part of the brain) which then causes a drop in dopamine, one of the most vital chemicals in the brain which is also a neurotransmitter. When this happens, this causes the body to seize with uncontrollable tremors, inflexible muscles and slow movements. One celebrity who is known for having Parkinson’s at an unusually young age is Michael. J Fox – star of Back To The Future. To read about coping mechanisms for Parkinsons, visit the Parkinson’s website.

Falling is common with people with Parkinson’s. If you haven’t already, purchasing a fall detector is a great way to have peace of mind for you or your loved ones, and ensures that help will always be called should the wearer have a fall.

Symptoms of a stroke infographic

Stroke

A stroke happens when the blood supply is cut off to a part of your brain. Due to this, urgent medical attention is necessary. The main symptoms of a stroke can be remembered with the acronym FAST.

F- Face- Has their face dropped to one side? Can they smile fully?

A- Arms- The person experiencing a stroke may struggle to lift their arms due to weakness and numbness.

S- Speech- Is their speech slurred and garbled? Are they having problems understanding what you’re saying to them?

T- Time- If the answer to any of these questions is ‘Yes’, it’s time to call 999.

More information regarding causes and treatment can be found on the Stroke Association website.

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