Simple wear and tear on the body is common as we age. However, the elderly are also more likely to develop certain medical and functional conditions that require prompt and sometimes continuous care. We look at the top health problems experienced by senior citizens who may need to move to assisted living facilities or even full-time nursing care.
The Activities of Daily Living
As people age, they are at risk of not being able to manage the basic or instrumental Activities of Daily Living (ADLs or IADLs). This can have a serious impact on the elderly person’s independence and ability to continue living alone or at home. One aspect that affects many of these residents is incontinence, which is as high as 70% in assisted living facilities.
Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a serious condition. The incidence of CHF has been increasing in the elderly in recent years. As much as 13% of seniors living in an assisted living facility will develop CHF due to weakness of the muscles and heart function and other underlying issues.
Roughly three-quarters of strokes happen to people who are aged 65 years and older. The risk of having a stroke doubles every ten years once the age of 55 years is reached. While 800,000 Americans will experience a stroke every year, 140,000 of these will die as a result over the same period. Despite the majority of stroke victims surviving, a huge number of them will be permanently disabled and need special care.
Altogether, 27% of the residents in an assisted living facility will have arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. See here for the differences between the two conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis is usually hereditary and is an autoimmune disease, one in which the body attacks its own joints.
According to the CDC, 42% of residents in assisted living facilities have dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia. Although not all seniors with dementia need to move to specialized care institutions initially, dementia is progressive and over time it becomes safer for the person to be in a facility that is experienced in handling the condition.
Roughly 33% of the elderly in nursing homes develop dysphagia. This is a difficulty in swallowing that can have serious consequences, like pneumonia, dehydration, and malnutrition in seniors. It is more likely to occur in residents who have dementia and following on from a stroke.
The treatment of dysphagia depends on what type the patient has. The condition can be linked to issues in the mouth and throat (oropharyngeal dysphagia) or esophageal dysphagia that affects the esophagus.
SimplyThick is a substance that thickens liquids and foods such as soups to provide the right consistency for swallowing in dysphagia patients, who will be placed on a soft food diet. Speech and swallowing therapy teach the patient how to eat and drink again using exercises and special positions of the head and body. Surgery and/or medication may be required. In the event that treatment fails, the patient will be given a feeding tube to bypass the problem.
As a person ages, the need to take better care of health through diet and exercise increases.