Disease Prevention in Older Adults

With age comes an ever-greater concern for one’s health. In spite of older adults delighting in longer and more fulfilling life expectancy, they remain at a higher risk of contracting disease due to a number of elements. These aspects consist of a weakened body immune system, reduction in overall activity and use of medications that affect the body’s body immune system action. Disease avoidance must be at the leading edge of any healthcare strategy for older grownups, with the ultimate objective of holding off reliance for as long as possible.

Disease Prevention in Older Adults

Key Takeaways

  • Older grownups are at higher risk of contracting illness.
  • Older grownups can prevent most diseases through a healthy lifestyle, including diet, exercise and lack of risky activity.
  • Early detection of certain illness decreases the possibility of mortality while increasing the success rates of treatment and care.
  • Comprehensive geriatric assessment may be necessary for those already dealing with certain diseases.

The Importance of Disease Prevention in Older Adults

Current data show that around 40 percent of deaths in older adults are the outcome of transmittable disease. Infections often intensify underlying health problems, leading to hospital stays and other emergency medical services. Lifestyle choices, including cigarette smoking, obesity, drinking and other risky habits can also have an unfavorable effect on the overall health and wellness of elders as they end up being older.

Disease prevention involves 3 levels of preventative measures, each considering the health, movement and safety of older adults and their existing level of care. The earlier illness are discovered, the more likely the possibility of treatment and recovery.

First-Level Prevention

The best method to stop disease is to avoid it from taking hold in the first location. First-level prevention does simply that by decreasing an older grownup’s risk of contracting a disease. Preventative steps typically include modifications in one’s lifestyle, from increased workout to giving up smoking and alcohol usage. In terms of medical expenses, first-level prevention represents a much lower cost than treatment and other forms of thorough care.

The following have actually proven reliable in first-level avoidance of illness:

Workout — Exercise is maybe one of the most essential ways of avoiding a wide variety of illness, from diabetes and heart disease to depression and excess weight. Older adults can benefit greatly from regular workout and it need to belong to their day-to-day regimen. Workout does not need to be a strenuous affair – in reality, walking for approximately 30 minutes a day can have considerable health advantages for older adults.

Smoking — According to the Centers for Disease Control, cigarette smoking is the single leading avoidable cause of death in the United States amongst both males and females. Gradually, smoking cigarettes causes significant decreases in lung function and blood flow, placing older grownups at a greater risk of establishing heart disease and lung cancer. Giving up can significantly lower these threats while enhancing lung function and life expectancy.

You might be interested in: How to Clean Lungs after Giving Up Smoking?

Numerous older adults who’ve given up cigarette smoking discovered the following methods to be useful:

  • Setting a quit date
  • Utilizing spots and other self-help tools
  • Joining support system for those aiming to quit
  • Receiving reinforcement from worried parties

Diet — A healthy diet is constantly crucial for people of all ages, but preserving the proper diet handles an even greater value as one ages. Particular foods are useful for combating a wide array of diseases and conditions, while limiting consumption of others can help avoid weight gain and other health issues. Older grownups must keep the following in mind as they aim to a healthier diet:

  • Omega-3, a substance discovered in particular fatty fish along with flaxseed, canola and soybean oils, is helpful for preventing cardiac arrest and stroke.
  • Entire grains, fruits and vegetables are abundant in fiber along with minerals and vitamins. Dietary fiber helps in reducing blood cholesterol levels, and helps with food digestion and weight management.
  • Lean meats, fish, skinless chicken and low-fat dairy items provide minimized amounts of hydrogenated fat.
  • Older adults need more calcium as they age. Men between the ages of 51 and 70 years require a minimum of 1,000 mg each day, while women require 1,200 mg each day. Older grownups can increase their consumption of calcium through foods such as milk, yogurt and cheeses. Multivitamins and mineral supplements are likewise efficient methods of guaranteeing calcium intake.
  • Minimizing canned and pre-packaged foods can help in reducing one’s salt consumption. High salt levels can cause a greater risk of hypertension.
  • Nutritionists and dietitians are often charged with producing a healthy diet that carefully matches their patient’s caloric and dietary requirements.

Vaccination — Vaccination handles a more prominent function for many older grownups. Aging and making use of medications that lower body immune system function often leave senior citizens at greater risk of contracting infectious diseases. To lower the probability of health complications from infections, older grownups are encouraged to get vaccinations for the following:

  • Influenza (flu): Once per year during September to mid-November, as the flu virus modifications continuously. Those adverse eggs or the vaccine itself must not be vaccinated.
  • Pneumonia: All adults age 65 and over should be vaccinated. Those who haven’t been immunized for 5 or more years and received vaccination prior to age 65 should be immunized once again.
  • Diptheria & Tetanus: Older grownups who’ve never ever been vaccinated should get two shots at least one to two months apart, followed by a third chance at least 6 to 12 months later on. Booster shots should be given every 10 years. Those with allergies to the shot ought to not be immunized.

Low-Dose Aspirin Therapy — Older grownups with two or more heart disease risk factors, including low HDL cholesterol, diabetes, severe weight problems and a family history of heart disease, might gain from low-dose aspirin therapy. Taking one aspirin tablet every other day can substantially decrease the risk of heart related disorders and lower the possibility of a 2nd cardiovascular disease.

Dental Checkups — Regular dental check outs can assist expose and prevent contagious illness originating in the mouth, consisting of gum infections and cancer. Older adults who practice excellent dental health are less most likely to develop dental concerns as they age.

Mishap Prevention — Accidental injuries are a leading cause of death amongst older grownups over the age of 65. Increased frailty, reduced strength and mobility, and natural reductions in vision, hand-eye coordination and mental skill all integrate to create a raised risk of severe injury and possible care in a rehabilitation center or retirement home. Removing prospective risks can help in reducing the probability of serious injury for older grownups.

Second-Level Prevention

Older adults who are currently struggling with illness take advantage of second-level prevention. This level of disease prevention focuses on early detection and timely treatment of age-related illness. Detecting certain diseases early on can help healthcare providers develop an effective treatment plan as soon as possible.

Prostate cancer — Prostate cancer is among the leading causes of death in men over the age of 75. Men over the age of 65 need to consult their healthcare provider about being screened for prostate cancer.

Breast cancer — Annual evaluations and a mammogram every one to 3 years can help detect and offer early treatment for breast cancer.

Colon cancer — Those with an elevated risk of colon cancer, consisting of those with a history of other cancers, irritable bowel syndrome or loved ones with a history of colon cancer, need to undergo annual fecal occult blood testing and if necessary, a screening colonoscopy.

Cervical cancer — Although women under the age of 65 are motivated to have normal Pap smears regularly, they’re not needed in women 65 and older. Those who’ve never had Pap smears prior to age 65 should have two normal yearly Pap smears, after which no further screening is required.

Also read: How to Reduce Cancer Risk

Diabetes — Routine diabetes testing is crucial for those with a household history of diabetes, as well as those who are currently overweight. Healthcare suppliers may test blood glucose levels as a part of blood and urine screening.

Heart Disease — Factors such as cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol play a substantial function in increasing risk of cardiovascular disease in older grownups. An electrocardiogram (ECG) might offer some insight in the heart’s current condition, however it should not be relied on as a sole means of testing. Cardiac stress testing may also show beneficial previous to starting an exercise program.

Depression — Common in many older adults, depression can be identified and dealt with by heathcare service providers. Screening is frequently as simple as answering a “yes” or “no” question regarding a person’s mindset over the previous week.

Dementia — Significant decline in psychological skill triggered by Alzheimer’s disease or other risk factors need to be reported as soon as possible. Early detection of dementia in older grownups often results in actions required to counteract its progression. Older grownups can preserve psychological acuity through routine activities such as reading, learning and analytical.

Third-Level Prevention

For older adults who are currently suffering from chronic illness, third-level prevention focuses mainly on monitoring and offering treatment, while preventing disabilities stemming from disease development. Elders who do not look for healthcare at the first and 2nd levels of disease prevention are generally in requirement of the 3rd.

Healthcare suppliers might perform a thorough geriatric assessment (CGA) over the course of third-level prevention. Many CGAs involve a collection of healthcare experts, from doctors to occupational therapists, charged with thoroughly evaluating an individual’s total state of health, developing health plans that best benefit older grownups and remaining abreast of health status changes.

Advantages of an Active Lifestyle

Leading an active lifestyle uses a wide variety of health advantages for individuals of any ages. Nevertheless, remaining active is specifically important for older grownups over the age of 65. Older adults who participate in exercise and other preventative activities are more likely to stay healthy and independent longer than their inactive counterparts.


Last modified: March 24, 2017

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