When you’re young you never give a thought to getting older, then all of a sudden you find yourself looking in the mirror and saying, “Is that me, that older person looking like my Mother, staring back at me”. Yes, you’ve arrived at that point when your body will start showing its age, you may feel 18 years old in your head, but slowly the wear and tear of the years shows itself.
Many find that their weight will increase as ‘middle age spread’ sets in, and you may have become less active or your diet not as good as it should be, or the onset of some weight and additional mobility limitations hinders the ability to exercise as much.
Diabetes 2 is becoming a real danger for many aging people now. In type 2 diabetes the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells ignore the insulin. It is an illness that can be brought about by poor diet, especially the excessive sugar in diets, diabetes 2 could also be referred to as “burnt out Pancreas” as the body struggles to cope with high blood glucose levels.
There is a tsunami of people, even younger ones subjecting themselves to this illness now, which left untreated can be very dangerous. You can change your lifestyle to avoid Diabetes 2, but if you cannot and have been diagnosed with it, medication will alleviate the problems it can create in your body. It is not as serious as Diabetes 1, which requires daily insulin injections and is much more life threatening. Symptoms of Diabetes 2 are extreme thirst, extreme tiredness and wanting to spend a penny too often. Although type 2 diabetes can often be easily controlled by diet, medication and exercise, it still poses a risk if not managed correctly. The long-term complications from Diabetes can include strokes, heart attacks, amputation and kidney failure.
The nurse at your local health centre can conduct a test to determine this condition, do a full blood count, thyroid test, liver and kidney function and check for any other under lying conditions associated with growing older. This is a fasting blood test where you can only sip water for 12 hrs before the test, therefore best to have it done early in the morning.
Heart disease is another condition that appears in different ways in men and women, at one point it seemed to affect men more, but over the last decade or so, women are being affected also. It typically seems to run in families, or lifestyles. Heart disease can manifest in many forms e.g. Angina, which is very treatable with medication, an irregular heart beat, again treatable, furring up of the arteries caused by blood clotting, this is partly treatable by blood thinning treatments, stents or whatever the doctor recommends.
Heart attacks become an increased risk with increased age, but if prompt treatment is given, the person can often be saved. A heart attack should be seen as a warning, which many people do not have, and preventative action can then be taken to prevent another attack recurring. As you reach a senior age you should ensure you are familiar with the symptoms of an oncoming heart attack, these are most commonly a crushing chest and jaw pain, extreme tiredness, and tingling in the left arm, amongst other things. Quite often indigestion and heart trouble can share similar symptoms, so if you are in doubt do consult your doctor. Your doctor can arrange for an ECG (Electro Cardiogram) test, which can be performed to assess the state of the heart.
Strokes & Transcient Ischaemic Attacks (TIA’s)
Strokes are very disabling, but a patient can recover fairly well, if treated very quickly after the stroke took place. The important thing with elderly people is to be able to recognize if they have suffered a minor stroke, and then ensure proper diagnosis and treatment is given. The typical signs that an elderly person has suffered a stroke are not being able to speak coherently, some distortion of face muscles on one side, imbalance and not focusing the eyes properly. TIA’s, often called mini strokes, result as a lack of blood to the brain. Most people recover from these fairly quickly with no major after-effects, although they may go on to have one or two more. TIA’s should be treated as a warning, and an alteration to diet, lifestyle, perhaps even medication to help prevent further attacks would be beneficial.
Anyone suffering from hypertension, or high blood pressure (HBP), is more liable to heart disease, kidney disease and strokes. There are no real symptoms for HBP so it pays to have regular blood pressure checks at your local surgery, as there are many people walking about with it undiagnosed and these are the ones in danger.
It can be very well controlled with medication, or often just an alteration to lifestyle. There are two readings the systolic and the dialostic. Systolic (the top reading) refers to blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. Diastolic (the bottom reading) refers to blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. E.g. 120/80 mmHg. (The mmHg is millimeters of mercury—the units used to measure blood pressure.) All levels above 120/80 mmHg raise your risk, and the risk grows as blood pressure numbers rise. “Prehypertension” means you’re likely to end up with HBP, unless you take steps to prevent it.
The chance of developing cancer grows with age, as I amongst most people, thought it diminished, so any untoward bleeding, lumps, unusual moles on the skin, should be checked out if at all worried. The earliest cancer is detected, the greater chance of good treatment and remission, leading to full recovery. Of course there are often no symptoms, leading to silent cancers. Again cancer tends to run in families as does heart disease so if you’re aware of your family health history and it contains relatives or parents who have suffered from cancer, be more aware. Also cancer is not confined to the older generation, many cancer sufferers are younger people.
The top and bottom of growing older is to be aware of your body, do not be rushing off to the doctor with every little thing, but at the same time do not ignore symptoms that do not go away, make you feel out of sorts or you consider may lead to something more serious.
Senior citizens, the rule is to enjoy life without obsessing about your health, as some unfortunately do, but to seek advice and help if you are unduly concerned about something. Adopting a more healthy approach to life as you age can help to prevent the onset of these four danger illnesses that affect us in old age.
If you aim to travel as you retire and enjoy the freedom offered as a senior citizen, then it is even more important to manage these afflictions that strike as we age. Travel Insurance companies treat diabetes, heart disease and cancer as serious health concerns when offering senior health travel insurance.