Common Health Concerns For Seniors

Before joining Brentwood Medical Clinic in 2011, Dr. Ali Ghahary worked with a large percentage of geriatric patients, including at the Louis Brier Home & Hospital in Vancouver – a long-term care facility funded by the Vancouver Coastal Health authority.

In 1914, Dr. Ignatz L. Nascher wrote the first book on geriatrics. The term “geriatrics” is derived from the Greek work “geras,” meaning old age, and “iatrikos,” meaning physician, and is the field of medicine that specializes in the healthcare of elderly patients.

In 2014, over 6 million Canadians consisted of geriatric patients aged 65 and up. That number is expected to rise by as much as 7 percent in the year 2030. According to the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy in Canada is 82.2 years of age. As seniors are now living healthier and longer lives, this is an umber that is also expected to rise over time. However, elderly patients often require more healthcare resources including assisted living and extended care facilities.

As soon as we are born the aging process begins, though it progresses at different rates in each individual. Certain factors such as genetics, nutrition, lifestyle changes, and occupational hazards as well as physical and social environments all play a part in how we age. It is important for elderly individuals to see their physician for regular check-ups to ensure optimal health. Below are some examples of common physical changes and diseases that elderly patients may experience:

Integumentary
• Bruising
• Signs of infection
• Hair thinning/loss of hair colour
• Dry skin/skin that loses its elasticity
• Development of wrinkes
• Age spots
• Increased sensitivity to cold
• Skin cancer

Nervous
• Problems with balance
• Difficulty with body temperature regulation
Sleep problems

Sensory
• Eyesight changes/cataracts
• Smell and taste receptors less sensitive
• Hearing diminishes

Musculoskeletal
• Less muscle strength and flexibility
• Slow movements
• Osteoporosis
Arthritis

Respiratory
• A decrease in breathing capacity
• Lung infections

Urinary
• Incontinence (lack of bladder control)
• Difficulty emptying bladder completely
• Decrease in kidney size

Digestive
• Increased constipation
• Increased flatulence
• Slower digestion of food
• Other digestive problems such as GERD

Cardiovascular
• Narrowing of blood vessels
Heart problems

Endocrine
• Decrease in estrogen and progesterone
• Increased risk of diabetes
• Hot flashes
Weight gain

Reproductive
• Cease of menstruation/ovulation (females)
• Enlarged prostate gland (males)

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