These 10 diseases of old age are typical in people. We explain the physical and psychological symptoms of the ailments and show what treatment concepts there are against them.
Medical progress makes it possible for us humans to become older and older. Life expectancy has increased significantly in Germany in recent decades, figures from the Federal Statistical Office show.
If the life expectancy for women in the period 1991/1993 was 79.01 years, it has risen to 83.27 years in 2016/2018. The trend is also confirmed for men. In 1991/1993 their life expectancy was 72.47 years, in 2016/2018 it grew to 78.48 years.
But despite all the medical advances, the risk of developing the disease increases with age. Chronic conditions can lead to people needing care. Some clinical pictures are typical for people of advanced age.
Cardiovascular diseases are among the typical diseases of old age. (Source: © zinkevych – . AdobeStock)
Cancer is one of the most common causes of death in western industrialized societies. Using . The risk of developing cancer also increases with age. (Source: © lyosha_nazarenko – AdobeStock)
A stroke manifests itself with sudden onset of neurological deficits. . (Source: © psdesign1 – AdobeStock)
There are many causes of diabetes in old age. The disease is one of the typical . Diseases of old age. (Source: © adrian_ilie825 – AdobeStock)
Fecal and urinary incontinence: several forms are known for both conditions. (Source: © . absolutimages – AdobeStock)
With age the eyesight can diminish. (Source: © luckybusiness – AdobeStock)
Parkinson's disease is considered the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the world. (Source: © galitskaya . – AdobeStock)
Rheumatism is the umbrella term for a number of medical conditions associated with chronic pain at the . Movement and support apparatus are connected. (Source: © RFBSIP – AdobeStock)
The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer's disease. In this degenerative disease . Nerve cells in the brain degenerate. (Source: © pathdoc – AdobeStock)
Older people are more often affected by depression than younger people. (Source: © agneskantaruk . – AdobeStock)
Typical diseases of old age
According to the definition Diseases of old age To diseases that occur preferentially in old age or are favored by advanced age. Some of these are chronic diseases that last a long time and are difficult or impossible to cure. Although we usually associate physical ailments with old-age diseases, these age-related ailments can affect both the body and the mind.
Many of the diseases typical of old age can be treated with medication and are thus alleviated. However, especially in older people, there are often several clinical pictures, which means that not all drugs are suitable in therapy. The so-called PRISCUS list includes drugs that are not suitable for older patients.
The Federal Statistical Office and the Robert Koch Institute publish the report "Gesundheitsberichterstattung des Bundes" (Federal Health Reporting) at regular intervals. Last published in 2015. The report aims to present developments in the health of the German population. In Chapter 8, we pay special attention to older people and name diseases that are typical for seniors.
1. Cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular diseases are among the most common causes of death in Germany. Heart diseases such as heart failure, coronary heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias and high blood prere occur more frequently in old age due to the altered performance of the heart.
Their causes are varied, but a healthy lifestyle often has an effect on blood prere and can reduce the risk of a heart attack. Dietary changes, blood prere medications and regular doctor's visits can improve blood prere. However, if a heart attack does occur, it is important to respond as quickly as possible and call a doctor immediately if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, chest tightness or nausea.
Along with heart attacks, cancer is one of the most common causes of death in western industrialized societies. Although this disease can occur at any age, the risk increases with age. The median age of onset of the disease is currently 69 years. The most common cancers include breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer and cervical cancer.
Cancer cells develop when certain genes change and the genetic information is altered as a result. It becomes dangerous when these cancer cells invade neighboring tie, spread throughout the body and metastasize or form tumors. Since there are some factors (e.g. UV rays, tobacco smoke, chronic infections) that can trigger cancer, one should pay attention to a healthy lifestyle and regularly attend preventive examinations.
Leukemia – also known as blood cancer – is a malignant disease of the blood and the risk of developing a form increases with age. According to the Cancer Information Service, patients were on average 72 years old in 2014 when they were diagnosed with leukemia.
The risk of suffering a stroke also increases with age. Stroke causes sudden and abrupt neurological deficits due to impaired blood flow to the brain. As in the case of a heart attack, it is extremely important to seek medical help immediately in order to prevent or minimize any consequential damage.
To detect a stroke, it is advisable to perform a test in which the person concerned has to smile, raise his or her arms at the same time and repeat a sentence. If it is no longer possible to perform these tasks properly, a doctor should be called immediately.
4. diabetes mellitus
In older people especially Diabetes type 2 diagnosed. In this Diabetes the body can no longer convert the nutrients supplied from food into energy. The sugar does not reach its destination, but remains in the blood, causing the blood sugar level to rise.
The visit to the doctor remains unavoidable, because otherwise often secondary or concomitant diseases occur and heart, kidneys, nerves, eyes or blood vessels can be damaged. The causes of diabetes are manifold. Genetic factors and obesity, however, often play a role.
Fecal or urinary incontinence is unpleasant for those affected and is often associated with shame. Different forms of both conditions are known, each with their own causes. Accordingly, the therapies must also find different starting points.
Known causes of fecal incontinence include chronic inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease), neurological damage and sphincter injuries. Urinary incontinence can be caused by mental. Physical triggers lead to problems. Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease are some of the causes that can lead to incontinence in men and women.
In men in particular, the risk of incontinence increases with age as the prostate enlarges. In benign prostatic hyperplasia (age-related enlargement of the prostate), small lumps develop that can press on the urethra. As a result, the storage and emptying function can be disturbed, causing urinary incontinence. The problems can often be treated with medication. In serious cases, however, it may be necessary to have the prostate enlargement surgically removed in a special clinic.
6. eye disorders
It is quite natural that eyesight decreases with age. Already between the age of 40. and the 50. At the age of 50, many people's vision deteriorates and presbyopia appears. In most cases, this is a case of long-sightedness, whereby objects in the vicinity can only be perceived in a blurred manner.
However, cataracts, glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may also occur more frequently in old age. If symptoms occur, the patient should consult an ophthalmologist and then consider possible therapies, such as wearing reading glasses, implantation of an artificial lens or treatment with a laser.
Currently, about 300.000 people in Germany suffer from Parkinson's disease. Most patients are between 50 and 79 years old. The disease leads to the death of nerve cells in the brain that are responsible for dopamine production.
Dopamine is a messenger substance of the brain that transmits impulses from the nerves to the musculoskeletal system. A lack of this leads to tremors, slowness of movement, muscle stiffness and disturbance of the holding and standing reflexes. Parkinson's is not yet curable, but treatable. There are medications, exercise therapies and, if necessary, surgical treatment options.
8. Joint& Bone diseases
Rheumatism and osteoporosis are typical diseases of old age that lead to problems with the joints, bones and muscles. Rheumatic diseases often cause inflammation of the muscles, tendons and joints of the musculoskeletal system.
One form of this disease is called rheumatoid arthritis, in which inflammation of the joints in the hands and feet leads to loss of movement and the need for care. Osteoarthritis is another subtype of this disease in which joint wear and tear has exceeded what is normal for age and is therefore considered pathological.
Although rheumatism cannot be completely cured, medications, therapies and physiotherapies can significantly slow down the course of the disease or lead to a long-lasting arrest of the disease. Osteoporosis, on the other hand, is a bone disease that is usually age-related and makes the bone susceptible to fractures.
The disease is also known as bone loss and is characterized by a decrease in bone density and thus a reduction in bone stability. Fractures in osteoporosis are mainly found in the vertebrae, femoral neck bones and wrists. Bone fractures can heal despite the disease.
In addition to the physical ailments of old age, the mental ailments should not be underestimated. Dementia is a disease that occurs almost exclusively in old age, but depression unfortunately also affects more and more seniors.
Dementia represents the second most common neurological disease in old age. It manifests itself through a persistent deficit in cognitive, social and emotional abilities. While only short-term memory is affected at the beginning of the disease, over time it extends to long-term memory as well. There are different forms of dementia.
The best known and most common form of dementia is Alzheimer's disease. Due to a loss of brain substance, this disease causes limitations in memory, thinking, speaking and orientation skills. Affected individuals also often suffer from listlessness, an altered personality, hallucinations, and sleep arrhythmias. There is no cure for this disease, but it is possible to delay its progression with medication.
In depressed patients over 65 years of age, one speaks of old-age depression. Since on average only about 5% of the population suffer from depression, but about 20% suffer from depression in old age, it can be said that the risk of developing depression increases with increasing age. Old age depression affects as many as 30-40% of nursing home residents.
Causes of this disease are mainly loneliness or the decline of physical or mental performance. The bad thing about this is that mental ailments are often not really taken seriously by relatives, or the doctor tends to focus more on the physical ailments.
However, the discussion and treatment of depression is still important even in old age. Especially in light of the fact that seniors are living longer and longer these days, it is important that they are able to do so happily. Psychotherapy is still promising in old age, and exchanging sadness and fear for happiness and contentment is always worthwhile.