Aging Well, Living Well
Americans are living longer than ever before, and many seniors are living active, healthy, and productive lives. A woman who is 65 today can expect to live, on average, another 19 years to age 84. Many of you are using this extra time volunteering in your communities, traveling, and spending more time with family and friends. Taking good care of your body and mind will help you enjoy your golden years. Choosing the right health care provider can make all the difference in the world.
Key health issues for older women include:
- Cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease and stroke)
- Mental health disorders
The medical community has focused a great deal of attention on health issues facing older women in recent years. More older women are being represented in medical research studies such as the Women’s Health Initiative, which included over 150,000 postmenopausal women.
Such research has helped healthcare providers learn much about menopause, osteoporosis, heart disease, and other conditions that are important to women. More research has also been done on the prevention of breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer.
Older women still have higher rates of disability than men of the same age, not because more women develop disabilities than men, but rather women with disabilities survive longer than men. Taking good care of yourself, including eating foods high in calcium for strong bones, can lower your chances of becoming disabled. Women also tend to be more vulnerable to poverty and isolation than men of the same age, despite government programs, improved pensions, and the fact that more women than ever before are working. Planning for your future can ensure you have the resources needed to enjoy your retirement.
Health disparities exist for older minority women as well. Even though these women have many of the same health problems as older white women, they are in poorer health and use fewer health services. They continue to suffer more from early death, disease, and disabilities. Many also face huge social, economic, and cultural barriers to having life-long good health. President George Bush and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Michael Leavitt have made closing the gap in health disparities a top priority for our nation.
By educating yourself about common health problems and services available, you can overcome many of these barriers. Leading an active and healthy lifestyle can help you reduce health risks and live life to the fullest. Read on for tips and suggestions to help you make the most of your golden years.
Because people are living longer, more women are dying of diseases associated with old age. Chronic conditions, physical limitations, and the risk of cancer and heart disease all increase as women age, making preventive screening and care a key part of healthcare for older women.
Some of the diseases older women commonly develop include:
The risk of Alzheimer’s disease increases as you get older, and more women than men survive to the ages where Alzheimer’s disease is most common. (More resources on Alzheimer’s)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) usually strikes women between the ages of 25 to 50. More than 2 million American adults have RA, and typically two to three times more women have RA than men. (More resources on arthritis)
In 2005, females over 18 were 40% more likely to currently have asthma than males. Taking hormone therapy to help symptoms of menopause may increase the risk of asthma among postmenopausal women. (More resources on asthma)
Anyone can get acute bronchitis, but seniors are more likely to get the disease because their immune systems generally are weaker. (More resources on bronchitis)
Cancer (Breast, Colorectal, Lung)
Cancer is the second leading cause of death for women ages 65 or older. (More resources on cancer)
Depression and Anxiety disorders
Twice as many women as men are diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety disorders, which can be linked to other chronic illnesses common in later life such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and arthritis. (More resources on depression and anxiety)
Women ages 65 and older reporting a history of diabetes were more likely than those without the disease to report a major disability, urinary incontinence, and impairments in hearing or vision. (More resources on diabetes)
Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Heavy cigarette smoking causes most emphysema cases. (More resources on emphysema)
Cardiovascular disease continues to be the leading cause of death in women in the United States. (More resources on heart disease)
High blood pressure
Loneliness may boost high blood pressure in older adults. (More resources on high blood pressure)
Urinary incontinence is common among older women. There are treatments that can help reduce or even cure urinary incontinence. (More resources on incontinence)
People older than 65 are at high risk of developing complications from influenza or “the flu.” You also are at increased risk of influenza or its complications if you live in a nursing home or other chronic-care facility. (More resources on influenza)
Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and disabilities among older adults. Hip fractures are the most common injury related to falls. (More resources on hip fractures)
Chronic kidney disease is on the rise. Kidney failure is a particular concern for African-American women who are 50 years and older. (More resources on kidney disease)
Lower estrogen levels brought on by menopause cause the body to lose more bone than it can replace, which can lead to osteoporosis (extreme bone loss). Women are four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis. (More resources on osteoporosis)
Pneumonia is a particular concern for older adults and people with chronic illnesses or weak immune systems. (More resources on pneumonia)
Septicemia (blood poisoning)
Older adults are at risk of developing septicemia and dying from it. (More resources on septicemia)
Since women are generally older when they have strokes, they are more likely to die as a result. (More resources on stroke)
Cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye, are a leading cause of visual impairment in the elderly. Glaucoma is an eye disorder that can cause permanent blindness if untreated. The rate of elderly women with glaucoma rises yearly, and half of those affected are unaware of their condition. (More resources on vision)
If you wish to set up an appointment with Lifeboat Medical Associates, please call our office at 770-631-4873