With life expectancy on the rise around the world, this means good news for us and our parents. We can expect better healthcare and medical advances that were not available to past generations. The key, however, to enjoying good health for as long as possible lies in making use of these medical innovations.
As the grown child of an aging parent, it might be difficult to know what to address in regard to their health. Knowing common health issues of the elderly is a good place to start.
Learn about the following 3 areas and evaluate them against the health of your parents.
Limited nutritional intake due to poor oral health
According to Sam Carroll DMD, Yuma Smiles, “Losing a tooth can be devastating. It can affect your ability to eat, your self-esteem, and your willingness to smile around others. But did you know that over time it can also cause bone loss, a sunken appearance to your mouth, and shifting and misalignment of your other teeth?”
When a person experiences teeth loss, this additionally impairs their ability to eat a wide range of foods, limiting the nutrition their body receives.
As time goes on, the individual’s diet may continue to narrow. He or she may begin to only choose foods that are easy to chew and swallow, versus making sure he or she is eating foods based on their nutritional profile. They may also be susceptible to other health conditions due to poor oral health.
If you see your parents struggling with chewing foods, encourage them to go in for a dental consultation. Better yet, make an appointment for them.
Arthritis and a general decline in mobility
One of the primary health concerns of those who are over 65 is pain in one’s joints, commonly associated with arthritis. Arthritis can lead to a lessened quality of life and inability to move about and care for oneself.
Some types of arthritis can be eased with medications. However, keep an eye on possible side effects. When possible, help your parents take a natural approach to arthritis pain relief.
Activities and actions that can alleviate arthritis pain in a natural way include losing weight. According to Healthline.com, losing weight lessens the burden felt on one’s joints.
Exercise can also help to reduce pain, by keeping your body and joints enjoying a wider range of motion. Swimming is low impact and can help the individual gain the benefits of exercise without further exacerbating joint discomfort.
Your parents’ diet can also help to reduce joint swelling and pain. Encourage a diet low in foods that cause inflammation, such as foods high in sugar, oil, or processed elements. Promote foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Memory loss and its effects on health
Memory loss is a common issue faced by those over 70. Occasionally, memory loss issues are due to medication or other underlying conditions. So some memory decline is to be expected, but when it hinders an individual’s health, it might be time to look into in-home or out-home care.
Memory loss can hurt one’s health through not being able to remember correct medication doses. He or she may be unable to remember when to feed him or herself. Or, they could pose a risk to themselves by forgetting to turn off the stove in the kitchen.
The AARP provides coping strategies for those dealing with aging parents who are suffering from memory loss. One of the key takeaways is to avoid brushing over an incident where memory loss played a role. Confronting the issue can help lessen denial on all sides and give everyone the opportunity to look for ways to problem solve.
Stay aware of your parents’ health by visiting and asking about how they are doing. If you live too far away from regular visits, ask a neighbor or someone you know who lives in the area to pop in for you. Have them look out for warning signs that your parents might need additional help for their health, or in caring for the house. If warning signs appear, it might be time for you to hire a caregiver.
If you find that your parents are struggling in any of these 3 areas, gently suggest a checkup. Or make an appointment for them. Going in for a health checkup is no one’s idea of a favorite pastime. But taking care of smaller health issues can prevent small concerns from growing into larger ones.