A longer life brings with it opportunities to take care of physical health, not only for the elderly but also for their family members. The inevitable physiological changes cause the accumulation of a wide variety of molecular and cellular damage. This leads to a gradual decrease in physical health and well-being. This article mentions a few common physical health problems in ageing.
- Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is defined as a skeletal disorder characterized by compromised bone strength, which is a common problem in older adults.
Our bones are living tissues that constantly perform regeneration to survive. When the formation of new bones isn’t as fast as the deterioration of old bones, we face osteoporosis. Low bone density due to osteoporosis is the major cause of falls that can lead to fractures.
- Falls: Falls are the leading cause of injuries in the elderly. The consequences of falls can rise with growing age. The elderly are usually susceptible to falls because of accidents or environment-related reasons. However, there are multiple risk factors that precipitate the elderly to fall. They might be muscle weakness, arthritis, prescription medications that induce dizziness as their side effects, impairment in cognition or vision, postural hypotension (a state where your blood pressure drops due to an elongated period of lying or sitting), confusion, heart disease, diabetes, thyroid, nerves or blood vessels or improper footwear
- Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic degenerative disorder that primarily affects the articular cartilage of the joints. It also involves bone remodelling and overgrowth at the margins of the joint in the form of spurs. OA leads to activity limitation and reduced participation. Prolonged mechanical stress, muscle weakness, and overweight are possible causes of OA. There are 4 stages of OA. Peculiar signs of OA are morning stiffness and joint pain with weight-bearing. Common joints involved are the joints of the Hands, Lumbar spine, Hips, Knees, and Feet (1st Thumb).
- Sarcopenia: Sarcopenia, or the decline of skeletal muscle tissue with age, is one of the most important causes of functional decline and loss of independence in older adults. Sarcopenia is increasingly defined by both loss of muscle mass and loss of muscle function or strength. Beginning as early as the 4th decade of life, evidence suggests that skeletal muscle mass and skeletal muscle strength decline in a linear fashion, with up to 50% of mass being lost by the 8th decade of life. Sarcopenia is a common condition in older adults that contributes to functional decline, disability, frailty, and falls.
- Back pain and neck pain: When you age, the cartilage fades away. At the same time, the discs lose water and become narrow, adding more pressure to the joints. This pressure causes inflammation and can lead to back pain. When spine pain is primarily in the neck, it could be due to cervical spondylosis (arthritis of the neck). Cervical spondylosis develops when there is abnormal wear on the bones and cartilage in the neck. Other conditions such as disc bulge, spinal stenosis, etc. can contribute to back and neck pain.