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Senior Health (cont.)

Common Diseases and Conditions of Seniors

Common diseases seen in the elderly population can involve many organs in the body.

  • Common diseases of the musculoskeletal system in seniors are osteoarthritis (inflammation of joints due to wear and tear), gout, osteoporosis (bone loss), and bone fractures.
  • Diabetes (impaired control of blood glucose), menopause, thyroid problems, high blood cholesterol, slow body metabolism signify hormonal dysfunction frequently encountered in the elderly.
  • Dementia (Alzheimer's disease or other types), Parkinson's disease, strokes, poor vision, hearing impairment, and balance problem are neurologic problems routinely seen in seniors.
  • Visual conditions as we age include macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetes and hypertension related eye disease.
  • Cardiovascular diseases are common in the geriatric population and include 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 diseases seen frequently in seniors are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), loss of lung volume, and pneumonias.
  • Poor kidney function (kidney or renal disease) from long standing diabetes and hypertension are typical kidney diseases seen in seniors.
  • Cancers are commonly diagnosed in seniors. Most common ones seen in this age group are cancers of prostate, colon, lung, breast, skin, bladder, ovary, brain, and pancreas.
  • Bone marrow and immune system can start to become less functional and lose their ability to produce sufficient blood cells causing anemia, myelodysplasia (abnormal cell production), and decreased ability to fight infections.
  • 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, and hemorrhoids are some of the age-related gastrointestinal conditions.
  • Urinary problems in seniors include urinary incontinence, urinary urgency, difficulty urinating, prostate enlargement, and urinary infections.
  • Common oral and dental conditions of the elderly are gum diseases, dry mouth, loss of teeth, poorly fitting dentures, and oral infections.
  • Skin conditions such as rosacea, shingles, dry skin, easy bruising, skin cancers, and pre-cancerous skin diseases are frequently diagnosed in seniors.
  • Psychiatric conditions of depression and anxiety are common in seniors, as are sleep disorders and insomnia.
  • In addition, fatigue, general deconditioning, forgetfulness, medication side effects, diminished appetite, weight loss, and falls are typical causes of concern for senior health.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/23/2015

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