As we get older, we’re more likely to develop certain health conditions. This is from a combination of natural changes that happen as we age, but also lifestyle habits that can cause certain diseases to develop. Here are six of the most common age-related conditions, how they can affect quality of life, and how they can possibly be prevented.
#1: Vision Loss
Vision loss can be caused by the normal aging process (i.e., cells breaking down), but the leading causes of blindness and low vision are age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and glaucoma. Those with limited vision and complete vision loss face many functional limitations, causing them to rely on others. This can lead to depression and a higher risk of death, depending on who diagnoses depression. Here are a few tips to follow to help prevent vision loss:
- Eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and dark leafy greens
- Maintain a healthy weight
- No smoking
- Take a break from staring at phone/computer screens
- Wear sunglasses and other protective eyewear
#2: Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes can also cause vision loss, and it isn’t necessarily an age-related disease as young children can also develop Type 2 diabetes when usually only Type 1 was found in this age group. Now that bad eating habits are starting earlier and becoming worse, Type 2 diabetes can start at any age. This debilitating disease can also cause several other issues, including stroke and heart disease.
The good news is that Type 2 diabetes is the preventable type, and maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to do so. This involves eating a balanced and nutritious diet and being physically active.
Osteoporosis is also known as “brittle bone disease” and it’s a condition that results in decreased bone mass. Everyone’s bone mass starts to decrease after the age of 30, and osteoporosis is most common in women over 50. Weaker bones mean that you’re more susceptible to falls, and these falls have the potential to fracture or break bones.
You can decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis by staying physically active and lifting light weights. It’s also important to increase your intake of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K— but it’s best to do this under the supervision of a healthcare physician.
#4: Hearing Loss
Age-related hearing loss is another natural occurrence that happens because of changes in the inner ear and auditory nerve. This type of hearing loss occurs in both ears and over a period of time, so it may not be noticed right away. Hearing loss can make it difficult to communicate with others, causing frustration and even depression. According to Cedars Sinai, here are some ways you can prevent hearing loss:
- Don’t smoke
- Keep volumes at a safe level
- Reduce noise exposure
- Stay away from loud noises
- Wear earplugs when necessary
#5: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that prevents adequate airflow from the lungs. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the two most common lung conditions that can lead to COPD, and having COPD can increase the risk of lung cancer and heart disease. Quitting smoking or not smoking at all can help prevent COPD, and so can avoiding chemical fumes and other types of irritants.
#6: Alzheimer’s and Other Types of Dementia
Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a variety of diseases that affect memory, thinking, and social interaction and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Those with Alzheimer’s usually have to move into memory care facilities or nursing homes, and unfortunately, they may not always receive the best care. Because these individuals are helpless, they’re at a higher risk of elder abuse from both family members and nursing home staff, which can include:
- Emotional abuse
- Financial abuse
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Verbal abuse
Nursing Home Law Center has more information on nursing homes laws, abuse and neglect, and what to do if you suspect nursing home abuse.
When it comes to preventing dementia, it can be tricky because many forms are hereditary. However, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep each, and keeping your mind active can help decrease the risk or prolong the development of the disease.
It’s also possible to experience more than one of these conditions at a time, and that has an even greater impact on quality of life. The bottom line is that it’s important to make healthy lifestyle choices to help decrease your risk of developing any age-related illness.