SENIORS HEALTH MONTH
The focus this month is to provide relevant information concerning the health of our senior population and to raise awareness about the importance of periodic health screenings to maintain the quality of life during the golden years.
Grand Prairie Seniors
According to the 2010 census estimates, 21.6% of Grand Prairie residents are aged 50+ and 6.7% are aged 65+ out of a total population of 175,396. This translates to a sizeable population of 37,900 residents 50+ and 11,800 residents 65+. Thanks to recent advances in the medical field, and increase in life expectancy, the senior population is expected to be one of the fastest growing segments, not only in Grand Prairie but in the U.S. as a whole.
Implications of an aging society
By 2030, the number of US adults aged 65+ is expected to more than double to about 71 million. The rapidly increasing number of older Americans has far reaching implications for our nation’s public health system and will place unprecedented demands on the provision of health care and aging related services. Research has shown that poor health does not have to be an inevitable consequence of aging. Older adults who practice healthy behaviors, who take advantage of clinical preventive services and who continue to engage with family and friends are more likely to remain healthy, live independently and incur fewer health-related costs.
An essential component of keeping older adults healthy is preventing chronic diseases. About 80% of older adults have one chronic condition and 50% have at least two. Infectious diseases such as influenza and pneumococcal diseases, due in part to the lower immunity of seniors and injuries also take a disproportionate toll on older adults.
Healthy Aging – Opportunities to Improve Older Adult’s Health and Quality of Life
Public Health agencies such as the CDC work with states, communities and other partners to support public health interventions that are designed to promote and preserve the health of older adults. Their key priorities are to:
- Promote healthy lifestyle behaviors such as getting regular physical activity and quitting smoking that could reduce chronic disease burden.
- Increase the use of clinical preventive services such as recommended immunizations and screening for chronic diseases and improving accessibility to these services.
- Address cognitive impairment which affects health and long term care needs. This presents major care giving and financial challenges.
- Address issues related to mental health.
- Provide education on planning for serious illness and to help people plan for care in case of serious terminal illness.
Chronic Diseases in Older Adults
The following is a listing of the percentage of death among older adults aged 65 and older due to various causes by compiled by CDC. This should help in prioritizing our preventive measures
|Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease||6.2|
|Influenza and Pneumonia||2.6|
|Balance Problems, All Other Causes||24.9|
More information on Alzheimer’s Disease and Balance Problems which have not been discussed before are discussed below.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually the ability to carry out the simplest of tasks. Estimates vary but experts suggest that more than 5 million Americans may have the disease. In most people the symptoms first appear when they are in their 60’s. It begins gradually and gets worse over time.
Not all people with memory problems have Alzheimer’s disease. Mild forgetfulness can be normal part of aging like taking longer to learn new things, remember certain words or finding one’s glasses. That’s different from a serious memory problem, which makes it hard to do every day chores.
Some older people with memory or thinking problems may have a condition called Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Signs of MCI may include
- Losing things often
- Forgetting to go to events and appointments
- Having more trouble coming up with words than other people of same age.
If you are someone in your family thinks your forgetfulness is getting in the way of your normal routine, it is time to see your doctor.
More information: National Institute of Health - Senior Health - Alzheimer's Disease >>
Have you ever felt dizzy, lightheaded, or as if the room was spinning around you? It could be a sign of a balance problem. An estimated 14.8 % of American adults have some form of a balance problem.
Having a good balance means being able to control and maintain your body’s position, whether you are moving or remaining still. An intact sense of balance helps you
- walk without staggering
- get up from a chair without falling
- climb stairs without tripping
- bend over without falling
The part of the inner ear responsible for balance is the vestibular system, often referred to as the labyrinth. To maintain your body’s position, the labyrinth interacts with other systems in the body, such as the eyes, bones and joints.
Vertigo, the feeling that you or the things around you are spinning is a common symptom. Balance disorders are one reason older people fall. Falls and fall related injuries, such as hip fracture, can have a serious impact on an older person’s life. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one third of adults 65 years and older fall each year.
There are many ways to treat balance disorders. Treatments vary depending on the cause. See your doctor if you are experiencing dizziness , vertigo or other problems with your balance.
More information: National Institute of Health - Senior Health - Balance Problems >>
The Get Fit GP initiative is an effort at the local level to identify strategies to help prevent and reduce the risk of disease to all citizens of Grand Prairie. The City has collectively invested in world class facilities such as The Summit and the parks and trails with you in mind. Make use of them to: LIVE LONG, LIVE HEALTHY, AND ADD LIFE TO YOUR LIVING.
And always remember: “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure."