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.
Mental Health Issues and Senior Citizens
The majority of older Americans successfully cope with the physical and cognitive changes associated with aging as well as various losses, such as the loss of family and friends that frequently are associated with late life. However, a substantial proportion of the population aged 55 years and olderâ€”almost 20 percent of this age groupâ€”experience specific mental disorders that are not part of â€œnormalâ€ aging including depression, anxiety disorders, and dementia including Alzheimerâ€™s disease which can be debilitating and severely affect an older adultâ€™s quality of life.6
Depression â€“ between 8 to 20 percent of Senior Citizens in the community and up to 37 percent in primary care settings suffer from depressive symptoms.1 These symptoms can range from depressive illness (major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, or bipolar disorder) to depressive symptoms that fall short of meeting full diagnostic criteria for a disorder and is associated with an increased risk of developing major depression (subsyndromal depression).7-8 In any of these forms, however, depressive symptoms are not a normal part of aging. In contrast to the normal emotional experiences of sadness, grief, loss, or passing mood states, they tend to be persistent and to interfere significantly with an individual's ability to function. Depression often co-occurs with other serious illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.9 Because of these co-occurring conditions health care professionals may mistakenly conclude that depression is a normal consequence of these problemsâ€”an attitude often shared by patients themselves.10 These factors together contribute to the underdiagnosis and undertreatment of depressive disorders in older people. Depression can and should be treated when it occurs and many effective therapies are available. If left untreated, depression impairs oneâ€™s enjoyment of life and may increase disability. It can also delay recovery from or worsen the outcome of other co-occurring chronic illnesses.
Cognitive health â€“ or brain health, is an important part of healthy aging. Cognitive health refers to maintaining and improving mental skills such as learning, memory, decision-making, and planning. Many Senior Citizens mistakenly believe becoming â€œsenileâ€ or forgetting is a normal part of aging. Although one in four Senior Citizens experiences these events (known collectively as cognitive decline), they are not a normal part of healthy aging.11 There are certain changes in cognitive health that occur as you age. Normal changes usually mean a slower pace of learning and the need for new information to be repeated. While the majority of Senior Citizens will experience these normal changes in cognition, some Senior Citizens will experience cognitive decline. Senior Citizens with cognitive decline have a higher risk of developing dementia later in life. Among Americans 65 years and older, approximately 6â€“10% have dementia, and two-thirds of people with dementia have Alzheimerâ€™s disease.12 Although research has not found a way to prevent dementia or Alzheimerâ€™s disease, cognitive decline may be preventable. Recent research suggests that being physically active, controlling your hypertension, and engaging in social activities may help you maintain and improve your cognitive health.
The information on this site was produced by the CDC or other government agencies, and has been compiled byt the site owners, who are not responsible for errors or omissions. Site design is a trademark of hiaxis.com (c)2007
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