As people age, our bodies naturally deteriorate. This is a normal part of life, and everyone should prepare for the eventuality that they will have a medical issue at some point in life, varying from inconsequential to severe. Below is a list of common elder illnesses that most elderly will have to face at some point in their lives. Each of these illnesses have a variety of care methods and impact on the elder’s life.
Cancer is the medical issue that everyone hopes to avoid, but many people have to deal with anyway. Cancer is a mutation of the cells that causes unhealthy tumors to grow and can eventually take over the body, causing death. Depending on where the cancer is located, cancer treatments vary. For gut-related cancers, an ostomy is sometimes necessary to protect the body. In these cases it’s really important to secure the ostomy supplies. Common treatments for cancer include radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and hormone shots that deter the growth of cancer cells. Cancer can have a huge impact on an elder’s life. Many cancer patients must give up normal routines until cancer treatments are completed because the treatments are hard on the body.
Alzheimer’s is the dreaded disease of the brain that causes memory loss. There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, which makes this disease one of the worst that any elder can face. Side effects of Alzheimer’s can include wandering, memory loss, and even hallucinations. Since Alzheimer’s is a deterioration of the mind, treatment for the disease includes increased medical care, increased care giving, and the eventual need for constant medical attention and care.
Parkinson’s disease is a disease of the nerves that causes the body to shake uncontrollably. There are varying degrees of Parkinson’s disease ranging from slight tremors to severe shaking that makes it impossible to function normally. Usually a doctor will prescribe a medication to help reduce the tremors so an elder can lead a more normal life. Occasionally, surgery is preformed to improve the condition. If Parkinson’s disease is severe, an elder may require hospitalization or constant nursing care to function.
Hearing loss affects nearly all elderly. Hearing loss ranges in severity from mild hearing loss to complete loss of hearing. Luckily, there are many implants and medical procedures that can help elders hear well throughout their lives. A variety of implants and procedures are available for each specific type of hearing loss. The biggest change to an elder’s life with hearing loss is the need to keep the ear piece tuned in so they can communicate with the rest of the world. In severe cases, it may be necessary for an elder to stop driving because of hearing loss.
Heart disease is a problem that occurs due to poor diet in earlier years. Heart disease can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, and a variety of other heart-related problems. In general, with careful monitoring and diet changes it is possible to manage heart disease. Most doctors will prescribe medications that will help keep the risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and heart attacks down. As long as an elder leads a healthy lifestyle and takes his or her medications, there is little disruption to daily life due to this health issue.
Caring for the elderly is a daunting task, but with the right tools and training, anyone can do it. If your loved ones suffer from any of the above health problems, you can provide excellent care by speaking with the elder’s doctor and following any instructions that the doctor gives you for helping the elder in your life. With modern medical science, caring for the elderly is easier and better than ever, which greatly improves the quality of life for elders in their declining years.
By contributing author Richard O.