5 Common Ailments that Affect the Elderly & How to Spot the Signs
As we get older, the risk of us being affected by certain health conditions increases. If you have an elderly relative or friend who you help to look after, it’s a good idea to be alert to the signs of the most common ailments so that you can react quickly and get them the medical attention they need.
Here are five of the most common ailments faced by elderly people according to Age UK, along with a brief description and how to spot the signs.
Dementia is a disorder of the brain that affects a person’s ability to reason and think properly. It is not actually a disease but rather a group of symptoms caused by various diseases. The most common of these is Alzheimer’s disease.
The symptoms are gradual and get worse over the years. They include:
- Finding it difficult to remember simple things that happened recently
- Not remembering where they put things
- Forgetting what day or date it is
- Having difficulty following conversations
- Experiencing problems following a story
- Struggling to complete daily tasks
The problem is that you may not notice the signs because they are so gradual. However, always take signs like these seriously and seek medical attention.
Further Reading: The Alzheimer’s Society
Depression can affect any age group. It consists of an intense feeling of being low that goes beyond feeling a bit down. It can last for weeks or longer, and it can become so bad that it interferes with daily life.
It can be triggered by big events, but it can also just happen. Common causes in elderly people include the death of a loved one, loneliness, the loss of routine following retirement, health problems and lack of independence.
Some people wrongly assume that depression is normal when older, but this is not the case, and it should always be treated.
Look out for signs of depression, which can include neglecting hygiene and appearance, a lack of interest, and feeling low for long periods of time.
Further Reading: Mind
- Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary heart diseases refers to the build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries, which narrows the arteries over time.
The most common symptom is angina, which consists of chest pain. This often occurs when the heart has to work harder when a person is active, like when they climb the stairs. Pain can also be felt in back, arm, throat and elsewhere.
It is not immediately dangerous, but it indicates a higher risk of heart attack, and medical attention should be sought promptly.
Unstable angina is more serious. This is where the symptoms of angina are felt when the person is not doing anything strenuous, like sitting in bed. It is more dangerous, and the pain can last longer and be more intense. It could indicate risk of a heart attack, and you should seek emergency help.
If you spot your relative experiencing pain, or they complain of chest pains, always get it checked by a doctor.
Further Reading: The British Heart Foundation
Diabetes is an incurable disease, but it can be controlled. The most common type in elderly people is Type 2 diabetes, and this is where the glucose level becomes too high.
Symptoms include thirst, going to the toilet more often, weight loss, cuts becoming slow to heal, and blurred vision.
All of these symptoms could indicate other things, but always check with the GP if your relative complains of any of these or you notice any signs.
Further Reading: Diabetes.co.uk
- Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is very common in elderly people. 71.1% of people over 70 have some level of hearing loss, and when it is related to age, it is called presbycusis.
It tends to progress gradually, and it usually affects both ears. The symptoms can be subtle to start with. One of these can include tinnitus, where a sound is heard where there is nothing making a noise.
If you notice that your relative is not hearing quite as well, make sure they get checked up. It may be that they need a hearing aid or other treatment.
Further Reading: NHS
Look Out for These Common Signs
These are some of the most common ailments and health problems that can affect people as they get older. Make sure you look out for the signs as well as any other signs that something is not right.
And if you hire one of our care workers, rest assured that they will always be alert to symptoms of various common conditions.