According to the National Council on Aging, approximately 80% of older adults have at least one chronic disease and 77% have at least two. While not all diseases are preventable, living a healthy lifestyle can help you avoid or slow down the progression of some of the most common ailments that seem to frequently strike during the middle-aged years. Here are four of the most common health issues and what you can do to prevent them.
Dementia or Memory Loss for Women
While many consider memory loss a natural part of aging, there’s plenty you can do to help keep your mind sharp as you age. Women, in particular, should note that recent research points to the likelihood of menopause playing a role in Alzheimer’s. Of the five million American’s that have Alzheimer’s, two-thirds are women. To learn more about the connection between menopause and Alzheimer’s, as well as possible preventative tips, refer to memory care community, Vineyard Henderson’s deep dive on the topic.
Researchers are looking at the role hormone replacement may play in staving off the onset of this disease. Estrogen in particular may be the most impactful with its ability to regulate the metabolic system of brain and body. Some researchers are questioning whether specifically targeting women that have declining estrogen levels would provide a benefit. The current studies that have been done suggest this may be the case.
Heart disease is considered the leading cause of death in the United States. While age alone is a risk factor which can’t be avoided, there are other risk factors that you have control over as you age. One such factor is keeping your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels in normal range. This is something that you would want to work on monitoring with your doctor, but the steps that you may need to take to regulate these factors are pretty simple – exercise more frequently and eat healthy, non-processed foods on a regular basis. Diets high in vegetables, fruits, healthy grains and lean proteins are the best defense against developing heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, preferably spread throughout the week.
Osteoarthritis is also commonly referred to as degenerative joint disease. The Arthritis Foundation says it’s the, “most common chronic condition of the joints, affecting approximately 27 million Americans. OA can affect any joint, but it occurs most often in knees, hips, lower back and neck, small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe.”
Osteoarthritis (OA) is more likely to strike those that are overweight or overuse the joints in repetitive activities. In the case of OA of the knee, one of the most common causes is weak thigh muscles. Sometimes injuries of the joint can cause OA of that joint prematurely.
One of the most effective ways to help prevent the onset of osteoarthritis or to lessen the stress on your joints is to keep your weight in check. If you’re overweight, you’re automatically putting too much stress on your joints, causing the wear and tear on them to be increased. Weight bearing exercise is another effective way to help stave off the start of symptoms. High blood sugar levels are also associated with a higher rate of OA. Maintaining a healthy diet that keeps blood sugar levels in check can help delay the onset of OA.
One of the most prevalent diseases that aging adults face is diabetes. According to CDC’s National Diabetes Statistic Report from 2017, diabetes affects 1 in 4 people over the age of 65. Characterized by the body’s inability to produce insulin or effectively manage insulin production, the disease can affect all age groups, but it is a condition that many aging adults face.
Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. The most effective ways to prevent diabetes Type 2, is with regular exercise and a healthy diet. This includes cutting out sugary snacks and beverages, as well as limiting your carbohydrate intake and increasing the amount of lean protein, fruits, and vegetables that you eat. The International Diabetes Federation recommends at least three to five days of physical activity, for 30-45 minutes at a time. The American Diabetes Association says, “No matter how fit you are, a little activity every day can help fight type 2 and put yourself in charge of your life.”
Living a healthy and balanced lifestyle is an underlying common denominator to avoiding many major diseases and conditions. With hard work and consistency, you’ll be on a great path to hopefully prevent many pending health-issues.