Are you afraid of getting older? Many people fear what might happen to their health more than they worry about the aging process itself. Overall, your disease risk increases as your age does.
Older adults suffer from the most common chronic health conditions at higher rates than younger populations — but many of these conditions prove preventable. Here are the conditions to watch out for later in life.
You’re more likely to develop cancer in your 50s or 60s. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Research has shown that cancer risk increases starting in middle age, and continues to increase as adults approach their 50s and 60s. Scientists believe the mechanisms that promote aging might also play a role in the development of certain types of cancer.
Many age-related chronic conditions, such as diabetes, also increase your cancer risk.
Next: A third of older adults will die due to complications from this devastating disease.
Sorry, but there’s still no cure for Alzheiemer’s disease. | iStock.com
This well-known form of dementia impacts millions of Americans every single year. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 3 adults aged 65 or older will die with Alzheimer’s disease or a different form of dementia in the United States.
Age is a major risk factor for the disease, but high blood pressure and cholesterol and physical inactivity also increase your risk.
Next: This is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the U.S.
As you get older it gets harder for your heart to function properly. | iStock.com/Nerthuz
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among all adults in the United States. Your risk increases as you get older, when it becomes more difficult for your heart to function properly.
There are many risk factors you can control even in your 50s and beyond, especially in terms of activity level, diet, and other health conditions.
Next: Many older adults suffer from this silently, and many never get help.
You may find yourself becoming more friendly with the bottle. | iStock.com
Alcohol is the most common substance older adults misuse. However, many also abuse tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Substance abuse among this population poses much greater health risks than it does in younger people. Alcohol and drugs affect the body differently in older adults, which means this kind of abuse should be taken seriously
Next: This condition can become dangerous in older people.
Diabetes is known to plague people of all ages. | iStock.com
Type 2 diabetes affects the body’s inability to process and use insulin properly. If you are 45 years of age or older, you’re at greater risk of developing this condition.
Older adults with diabetes are more likely to suffer injuries from falls, which can become especially damaging if other underlying conditions already affect physical and mental health.
Next: This virus can stay inactive in your system for years before infecting you.
It’s likely you will develop shingles at some point. | iStock.com/Voyagerix
This viral infection causes a rash, and sometimes other health complications, in those it infects. The same virus that causes chickenpox and stays inactive in your cells can reactivate as shingles years later.
Shingles is most common in people over 50 years of age. It’s estimated that half of the population 80 years or older will develop shingles at some point.
Next: This lung disease can develop over many years.
Smoking tobacco is one of the most common causes of COPD. | iStock.com/yodiyim
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a slowly-developing inflammatory lung condition. Because it can take years to negatively impact a person’s health, most people with this disease are at least 40 years of age or older.
COPD causes shortness of breath, fatigue, and frequent respiratory infections, which can severely affect a person’s quality of life over time. Tobacco smoking is one of its most common causes.
Next: People with compromised immune systems might suffer from this.
Pneumonia is a life-threatening disease. | iStock.com
People with compromised immune systems face greater risk of developing pneumonia, an infection that causes the lungs to fill up with fluid. Infants two years or younger and adults 65 and older are more likely to develop this potentially life-threatening disease.
Next: These painful conditions can make everyday life painful and more complicated.
Arthritis makes it difficult to perform daily tasks. | iStock.com/SIphotography
This collection of hundreds of diseases affect your joints, the tissues surrounding your joints, and other tissues throughout your body. This can make everyday activities painful and even impossible to complete, depending on its severity.
Experts say your risk for developing different types of arthritis increases with age. Overweight and obesity and certain occupations also increase your arthritis risk.
Mouth and gum diseases
Make sure you go for a regular teeth cleaning. | iStock.com
Many older adults suffer from dry mouth, cavities, gum diseases, and even mouth cancer. Regular dental visits, and good oral hygiene practices like regular brushing and flossing are often all you need to do to prevent these conditions late in life.
Next: This condition looks and feels different in older people, making it difficult to diagnose.
It’s difficult to diagnose depression in older adults. | iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia
It’s extremely difficult to recognize and diagnose depression in older adults. This mental health condition presents with different symptoms in this population than it does in younger people. Irritability, fatigue, and sleep troubles, for example, are much more common than feelings of sadness in many cases.
Next: This condition can cause vision loss.
You could lose your eyesight if you develop glaucoma. | Thinkstock.com
Old age is one of the greatest risk factors for glaucoma, an eye disorder that progressively damages the optic nerve. Many people who develop glaucoma suffer nerve damage and lose their sight as a result. It is the second-leading cause of blindness in the U.S.
Next: This makes you more likely to break bones frequently.
Your bones definitely aren’t as strong as they used to be. | iStock.com
This bone disease causes you to lose bone or prevents your body from making enough bone. Osteoporosis can make your bones extremely weak, putting you at risk for fractures.
Diet, exercise, and alcohol use increase your risk, but so do age and gender (women are at greater risk than men).
Next: This condition actually increases your risk for other diseases.
Excess fat around your waist increases your chances of developing metabolic syndrome. | iStock.com
High blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, and excess fat around the waist all increase your disease risk. If you have three or more of these health markers, you have something called metabolic syndrome.
This condition simultaneously increases your risk of conditions like heart disease and diabetes. If you’re over 50, you’re at a higher risk for developing metabolic syndrome.
Next: Many people gain weight as they age, which can lead to this disease.
It’s important to keep your weight in check as you get older. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages
Age is one of those obesity risk factors you don’t have any control over. Many people tend to gradually gain more weight as they get older due to a number of factors, which can cause many health problems later in life.
However, like many other conditions on this list, there are also risk factors you can take control over, such as dietary changes, exercise, and getting better quality sleep. It’s never too late to take small steps toward a healthier life no matter your age.
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