Health Information for Senior Citizens
Chronic diseases exact a particularly heavy health and economic burden on Senior Citizens due to associated long-term illness, diminished quality of life, and greatly increased health care costs. Although the risk of disease and disability clearly increases with advancing age, poor health is not an inevitable consequence of aging.
Much of the illness, disability, and death associated with chronic disease is avoidable through known prevention measures. Key measures include practicing a healthy lifestyle and the use of early detection practices (e.g., screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers, diabetes and its complications, and depression).
For chronic diseases and conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, depression, psychiatric disorders, osteoporosis, Parkinson's disease, and urinary incontinence, much remains to be learned about their distribution in the population, associated risk factors, and effective measures to prevent or delay their onset. This site is intended to provide health tips for Senior Citizens to help them live longer, healthier lives.
Injuries Among Senior Citizens
In the United States, one of every three persons aged 65 years and older falls each year. Among Senior Citizens, falls are the leading cause of injuries, hospital admissions for trauma, and deaths due to injury. In 1999, about 10,097 seniors died of fall-related injuries.16 Fractures are the most serious health consequence of falls. Approximately 250,000 hip fractures, the most serious fracture, occur each year among people over age 65. Many of these falls and resulting injuries can be prevented. Strategies to prevent falls among Senior Citizens include exercises to improve strength, balance, and flexibility; reviews of medications that may affect balance; and home modifications that reduce fall hazards such as installing grab bars, improving lighting, and removing items that may cause tripping.
While rates of motor vehicle related death and nonfatal motor vehicle related injuries among Senior Citizens vary by state, there are some consistencies. In most states, the fatality rates for men are twice those for women. In all states, motor vehicle-related fatalities are higher among adults 75 years and older, as compared with adults between 65 and 74 years of age. Among older adult drivers, the number of motor vehicle-related fatalities increased 30% and the number of nonfatal injuries increased 21% between 1990 and 1997. However, the number of fatalities and nonfatal injuries among older adult pedestrians declined during these same years (23% and 24%, respectively).
Risk factors for suicide among the elderly differ from those among the young. Older persons have a higher prevalence of depression, a greater use of highly lethal methods and greater social isolation. From 1980â€“1998, the largest relative increases in suicide rates occurred among those 80â€“84 years of age. The rate of suicide is higher for elderly white men than for any other age group, including adolescents.13
People aged 65 and older are twice as likely to die in a home fire as the population at large.
Tips for Preventing Falls Among Older Adults
Falls are not just the result of getting older. Many falls can be prevented. Falls are usually caused by a number of things. By changing some of these things, you can lower your chances of falling.
- Begin a regular exercise program.
Exercise is one of the most important ways to reduce your chances of falling. It makes you stronger and helps you feel better. Exercises that improve balance and coordination (like Tai Chi) are the most helpful.
Lack of exercise leads to weakness and increases your chances of falling. Ask your doctor or health care worker about the best type of exercise program for you.
- Make your home safer.
About half of all falls happen at home. To make your home safer:
- Remove things you can trip over (such as papers, books, clothes, and shoes) from stairs and places where you walk.
- Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
- Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool.
- Have grab bars put in next to your toilet and in the tub or shower.
- Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
- Improve the lighting in your home. As you get older, you need brighter lights to see well. Lamp shades or frosted bulbs can reduce glare.
- Have handrails and lights put in on all staircases.
- Wear shoes that give good support and have thin non-slip soles. Avoid wearing slippers and athletic shoes with deep treads.
- Have your health care provider review your medicines.
Have your doctor or pharmacist look at all the medicines you take (including ones that don't need prescriptions such as cold medicines). As you get older, the way some medicines work in your body can change. Some medicines, or combinations of medicines, can make you drowsy or light-headed which can lead to a fall.
- Have your vision checked.
Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor. You may be wearing the wrong glasses or have a condition such as glaucoma or cataracts that limits your vision. Poor vision can increase your chances of falling.
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