11 common health concerns for people over 65


average life expectancy

in the United States is just short of 80 years. This means that by the time
you reach retirement, you’re likely to still have a lot of life ahead of
you. But with this significant milestone come some additional health
concerns you should be aware of that may require your attention and some
preventive care.

Whether you’re an older adult already, getting close, or the caregiver to
one, here are 11 health issues to keep in mind.

1. Cognitive decline

There is a normal level of

cognitive decline

that naturally happens as we get older. You may notice more frequent bouts
of forgetfulness in yourself or a loved one, but usually it’s not severe
enough to have a serious impact on daily activities. The best thing you can
do to fight cognitive decline is keep your mind stimulated with games,
puzzles, and similar activities that exercise your brain.

Staying physically active and eating well

can help too.

2. Alzheimer’s disease (and dementia)

Getting older is one of the

greatest risk factors

for neurological diseases such as

Alzheimer’s disease

and other types of dementia. The symptoms usually come on slowly and become
gradually worse until basic daily tasks become difficult and

caregiving becomes necessary
. Early diagnosis and intervention can lead to a better quality of life for
people living with the condition. There are also treatments
and drugs available that may change the progression of the disease and help
manage symptoms.

3. Hearing and vision loss

Like cognitive decline, some level of hearing loss
is common. The tiny hair cells in your inner ear that allow you to hear
don’t regrow after they die, so years of being exposed to loud noises can
have a significant impact on your hearing.

Vision loss is also common
, generally due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or cataracts.
Left unchecked, hearing and vision loss can lead to diminished quality of
life, increased isolation, and accelerated cognitive decline. Regular
physical activity, a healthy diet, and quitting smoking can all go a long
way in preventing hearing and vision loss.

If you notice a change in your vision or ability to hear, contact a medical
professional right away.

Hearing aids

and other assistive devices can be beneficial for those experiencing
age-related hearing loss. For vision loss caused by AMD, medications and
laser therapy can be helpful.


is the only way to completely get rid of cataracts, but a prescription for
new glasses or contacts, as well as some other small changes (like using
brighter lights and wearing sunglasses), can help people with early-stage
cases see better.

4. Heart disease

The risk of

heart disease

increases as we get older. Over time, cholesterol deposits (also known as
plaque) can build up in the arteries of the heart and lead to chest pain,
heart attack, or even heart failure. A nutritious diet and regular physical
activity can go a long way in keeping your

heart healthy

as you age.

5. Diabetes


is common among people over 65 years old. In fact, a report from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that

25 percent of people in this age group are living with diabetes or
. These conditions can lead to poor outcomes for older people, including
kidney disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, and death. Maintaining a
healthy diet and body weight are key to avoiding and controlling this
serious health condition.

6. Osteoporosis

Elderly people are at higher risk for

, a disease that causes a person’s bones to weaken and more easily break.
The condition is often referred to as a “silent disease” because people
don’t know they have it until a fracture occurs, usually in the spine,
hips, or wrists. A calcium- and Vitamin D-rich diet can help lower the risk
of developing this condition.

7. Falls

Falls are a serious cause for concern among older people, resulting in at

300,000 hospitalizations

every year. Dizziness from medications or other health conditions can also
lead to falls and other injuries. To avoid losing mobility due a fall, many
people choose to “fall proof” their house by adding anti-slip flooring and
more surfaces to hold on to while standing.

8. Flu, pneumonia, and COVID-19

Older people are more likely than others to get


(flu), pneumonia, and

. Weakened immune systems can make it harder to recover from these diseases
and can lead to complications. All older people should get an

annual flu shot

and get fully

vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19
. They should also take additional care to avoid sick people and large
group gatherings during cold and flu season.

9. Mental health

Many elderly people suffer from


as a result of becoming isolated. A loss of engagement with peers after
retiring or the death of a spouse are common causes of loneliness and can
lead to depression and other mental health issues.

10. Oral health

Many of the concerns on this list manifest in

oral health
. Your mouth, which encounters a lot of bacteria, is a main point of access
to your digestive and respiratory system. So frequent tooth brushing,
flossing, regular dental checkups, and other oral hygiene habits are
essential to remaining healthy.

11. Cancer

While not unique to elderly people,


is a health concern worth noting. Many cancers become more prevalent in
older people, and with the passage of time, tumors may have more time to
develop and spread.

Of course, any condition that follows a person into old age is a continued
risk as they grow older.


is a common risk factor for many of the concerns mentioned in this article,
and chronic conditions — such as


or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) — may worsen over time.

More than ever, people today are expected to live independently and happily
well into their late 70s and beyond. Being aware of the health concerns
faced by older adults, and being proactive in addressing them is the best
way to ensure that you spend your later days feeling your best!

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