Aging is a part of life that is inescapable. And as we age into our golden years, the negative effects of aging are inevitable. These include undesirable health conditions that will occur and often get progressively worse.
Most of us will spend the majority of our lives thinking that we could never get sick. We often feel this way about our parents as well, but suddenly we realize that as they age, they are more susceptible to illness and disease.
We want our parents to be healthy as they age and to do so, we should understand some of the most common health conditions that will likely come with age. We should learn how to prevent them or at least minimize the chance of their becoming debilitating or even life threatening conditions.
The consistent number one killer of men and women in America is by far heart disease. More than 600,000 Americans will die this year from its affects with the majority succumbing to heart attacks ad strokes.
Heart Attack – Heart disease advances when plaque and other substances clog the arteries leading from the heart, causing blockages to vital organs including the heart and brain. Too much plaque will lead to death by heart attack.
Stroke – Stroke is closely related to a heart attack in that it also involves a build up of plaque causing clogged arteries, but in this case it relates to no blood reaching the brain. This causes brain cells to perish, and the body to shut down from the condition causing debilitation or death.
The largest group of heart disease sufferers are the elderly who have had this condition worsening over decades and in their elderly states are weakened from other illnesses or not being in good physical shape.
Perhaps the only good thing about heart disease is that it is a somewhat reversible condition. Science has shown that if a person maintains a healthy body weight, reduces his sodium, fat, and sugar intake, exercises regularly, drinks more water, avoids smoking and drinking alcohol, and reduces stress, his chances of having a heart disease elated illnesses decreases substantially.
However, it is important to note that even while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, a heart attack or stroke can occur. If your parent begins to show any of the symptoms of either of a heart attack or stroke, get to a local emergency room immediately.
Osteoporosis and Arthritis
More than 50 million Americans have a condition called Osteoporosis which weakens bone density. The result is limited mobility and an increased risk for bone breaks and fractures. It can also contribute to arthritis which will affect the joints of arms, hands, legs and feet. Osteoporosis is very painful and has no cure, so preventing it is the best course of action.
Preventing osteoporosis needs to start early and includes: increasing calcium and vitamin D, drinking less caffeine and alcohol, and maintaining a healthy weight.
The best approach to preventing these diseases is to help your parents maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. This may require that they break habits that they have held on to a long time like eating lots of red meat, working long hours, and smoking. But without these and other key lifestyle changes, a health crisis is imminent.