5 Most Common Diseases in Old Age

Many of the diseases associated with aging are chronic conditions associated with progressive cellular degeneration. Although many can't be cured, they can be controlled. Learn more in this article!
5 Most Common Diseases in Old Age

Last update: 23 June, 2021

Do you know the 5 most common diseases in old age? As the human body ages, the properties of the organs change, making it more prone to develop certain health problems. Most of these conditions are preventable and treatable.

Ready to learn a bit more?

Worldwide, the survival of older people has increased significantly compared to previous eras. Today, life expectancy in the Americas exceeds 70 years according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). This fact favors the appearance of chronic disorders related to organ damage and wear and tear.

The most common diseases in old age are attributed to cardiovascular, neoplastic, osteoarticular, and endocrine-metabolic conditions. Most of these health issues offer early signs that can be detected in time. In this sense, timely diagnosis and therapy are the basis for healthy and full aging.

The 5 most common diseases in old age

A man at a doctor's office
Arterial hypertension is one of the most common diseases in old age.

Currently, there’s a high rate of health issues that affect older adults and their quality of life. Most of these diseases manifest themselves gradually and progressively, so they usually go unnoticed until they manage to settle acutely and alter the daily activities of the elderly.

From a biological and medical perspective, aging is the result of a large amount of cellular and molecular damage, this degeneration isn’t linear and specific to all older adults.

In this sense, the presence of health issues in the elderly depends on a more complex multifactorial sphere. Taking all this into account, it is possible to say that within the most common diseases in old age the following stand out:

Most common diseases in old age

We now present a list of the five most common diseases in old age.

1) Arterial hypertension (high blood pressure)

Arterial hypertension is a disease of the cardiovascular system characterized by high blood pressure. For years, this issue has remained one of the conditions with the highest incidence and mortality in the world.

Various studies show that its prevalence is 20-30% in the general population and 60% in patients over 60 years of age. Similarly, arterial hypertension is associated with a long list of cardiac issues, including acute myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease, and stroke.

The symptoms of this condition are usually silent and vague; however, some patients report dizziness, headaches, and palpitations. Diagnosis is clinical and is based on the identification of blood pressure numbers and an adequate physical examination. In addition, treatment involves various changes in lifestyle, diet, and pharmacological support

2) Arthritis and osteoarthritis

Arthritis is a group of acute or chronic issues associated with inflammation of one or more joints. For its part, osteoarthritis refers to the progressive degeneration of the elements that form a joint, mainly at the level of the articular cartilage.

By 2018, the Spanish Society of Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine (SERMEF) estimated that in Spain more than half of the people over the age of 65 suffered from some form of osteoarthritis. Both osteoarticular conditions usually manifest themselves with joint pain, stiffness, and limited joint mobility.

Arthritis and osteoarthritis are more common in women than in men due to the hormonal variations of menopause. Although there isn’t a definitive cure, most patients can lead a normal lifestyle by following a continuous pharmacological treatment or, in some cases, surgery.

3) Alzheimer’s disease

A man with Alzheimer's disease
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include loss of recent memory, as well as changes in behavior.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that includes brain atrophy and nerve cell death. It’s the leading cause of dementia in older adults, present in more than one-third of patients over 85.

Early manifestations of the condition include loss of memory of recent events or situations. For example, as the condition progresses, there’s deterioration in the individual’s behavior, thinking, and social skills, and even the ability to perform daily activities is affected.

At present, Alzheimer’s has no definitive cure or treatment. However, timely diagnosis and therapy can help slow the progression of the disease. Thus, the person will be able to prolong the maintenance of their brain functions and function independently for a longer period of time.

4) Dementia

Dementia is a memory and thinking disorder associated with a varied group of chronic and degenerative diseases. So, in this sense, this disease of old age is the result of continuous damage to the brain structures responsible for coordinating and regulating higher functions.

It’s considered the main cause of disability and dependence in older adults. The cardinal symptom is the gradual loss of memory, as well as the manifestation of delusions, hallucinations, paranoid ideas, and psychosis.

Diagnosis involves a comprehensive medical, physical, and psychological evaluation in which the state of the person’s psyche is assessed in detail. In addition, treatment is mainly pharmacological. It involves progressive and permanent care to perform daily activities.

5) Osteoporosis: One of the common diseases in old age

Osteoporosis is a degenerative issue of bone tissue characterized by chronic bone demineralization, fragility, and loss of bone density. It’s one of the most common diseases of old age with an incidence of 25% for women over 45 years and 50% for women over 60 years.

Osteoporosis includes an increased prevalence of fractures due to falls or mild to moderate trauma. The bones most commonly affected are the femur, hip, spine, and wrist ossicles.

The most frequent manifestations of this issue are bone and joint pain, decreased stature, weakness, and forward stooped posture. Doctors determine the prognosis by adequate nutrition and supplemental administration. So the treatment usually provides a good quality of life and contributes to the relief of symptomatology.

Tips for preventing diseases in old age

A boy with his grandpa
Healthy lifestyle habits help prevent the typical diseases of old age.

Doctors associate most of the most common diseases of old age with chronic degenerative processes. For this reason, small lifestyle changes can slow down the progression of a large number of conditions. In addition, these changes can also increase the survival of older adults.

Here are some tips you can follow to reduce the risk of presenting some diseases during old age:

  • Have a balanced diet: Follow a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and low in salt, sugars, and saturated fats to reduce the risk of suffering or being complicated by cardiovascular, endocrine, metabolic, and osteoarticular problems.
  • Physical exercise: Light to moderate physical activities favor arterial circulation, weight control, and a decrease in the incidence of arterial and metabolic diseases. They also help to keep the body active, slowing the degeneration of organs and tissues.
  • Continuous medical control: The periodic medical visit allows to detect diseases associated with old age early and provide timely therapy. In addition, the follow-up of health issues is vital to avoid associated complications.
  • Practice certain recreational activities: Social and educational events prevent isolation and the progression of diseases that affect the brain, such as dementia.
  • Avoid excesses: It’s advisable to reduce the consumption of any external substance that may damage the body. Excessive consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and non-prescribed drugs favors the manifestation of hepatic and systemic alterations.

The key to preventing common diseases in old age is a healthy lifestyle

In conclusion, the state of the body is a reflection of everything people do and consume in their daily lives. Specialists recommend that you emphasize achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle as the body ages.

To do so, we invite you to follow the advice suggested above. Likewise, it’s important to emphasize the need to go to the doctor whenever you notice any symptoms or strange signs. Lastly, remember that prevention is your best weapon against the most common diseases of old age.

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