Health Care Article | Transamerica

Health CareTop Retiree Health Concerns 

Here are some of the top health care concerns–and tips for prevention and treatment–faced by retirees today. 

1. Diabetes

There are 10.9 million Americans age 65 and older who have diabetes, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC)1. Complications associated with diabetes include heart disease, stroke, hypertension, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease, and more.

Your health care provider can reduce the occurrence of these complications through preventative care and by controlling the levels of blood glucose, pressure and lipids. Diet, insulin and oral medication are the main components to treat and manage diabetes. Self-care practices such as healthy eating, being active and monitoring blood sugar can also help manage the disease and its related conditions.

2. Dementia and Alzheimer's

The varying symptoms of dementia include memory loss, communication and language impairment, the inability to focus, lack of sound reasoning and judgment and/or poor visual perception. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 50-80 percent2 of all cases.

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are treatments for symptoms and researchers continue to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset and prevent it from developing. Getting regular physical exercise, following a healthy diet and engaging in mental and social stimulating activities are all things that you can do to help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s.

3. Depression

Depression affects more than 6.5 million Americans age 65 and older3. Those who suffer from depression later in life are more prone to medical illness and cognitive decline. It often goes untreated, however, because many people assume that depression is just a natural part of aging. Symptoms are often characterized by memory problems, social withdrawal, loss of appetite and irritability. The key difference between depression and so-called normal sadness or grief is that depression doesn’t go away by itself and lasts for months at a time.

Medication – combined with supportive psychotherapy and/or cognitive behavioral therapy – has been cited as effective treatment for those suffering from depression. If you are or think you may be depressed, talk to your doctor immediately.

4. Cancer

Anyone is at risk for developing cancer, however roughly 77% of all cancers are diagnosed in people age 55 and older4. The good news is that, according to the American Cancer Society, a substantial proportion of cancers could be prevented.

Cancers caused by cigarette smoking, heavy drinking, obesity, excessive sun exposure, physical inactivity and poor nutrition can be prevented through behavioral changes. Regular screening can help the detection and subsequent removal of precancerous growths and cells. Screening can also lead to the early detection of certain forms of cancer – generally resulting in less extensive treatment and better outcomes.

5. Physical immobility

While not exactly a disease, it is a huge concern for all of us as we age. Inevitably our bodies are going to slow down at some point. To maintain independence as you age, you must maintain physical mobility. That means being able to walk. If you haven’t already done so, start a daily walking program or other physical activity to help stave off physical immobility.


Sources
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. www.cdc.gov.
  2. Alzheimer’s Association, www.alz.org.
  3. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Depression in Older Persons Fact Sheet. www.nami.org.
  4. American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts & Figures 2013. www.cancer.org.