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Typical Health Problems in Retirement

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 13 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
Health Problems Elderly Health Problems

Whilst we should all look after our health when we are younger if we want to try to remain fit and healthy beyond our retirement there is no escaping the natural ageing process and, whilst most of our concerns often lie with our physical appearance, we should also be aware of how ageing affects our bodies inside and how that can manifest itself as we get older. Below are some of the effects that ageing has upon us.

Cardiovascular System

As we get older, the muscles around our heart find it more difficult to pump the blood around our body as efficiently as when we were younger. The blood vessels become less elastic and fatty, hardened deposits can form on the arterial walls. This can often lead to high blood pressure, angina and heart attacks.

Digestive System, Kidneys and Bladder

Swallowing food and the whole process of digestion and how food passes through the body slows down as we get older and, along with the degeneration of our kidneys and bladder functions, can cause us health problems related to constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and incontinence and others.

Bones, Joints and Muscles

Your bones reach their highest mass density when you’re between 25 and 35 so there is often a long period where they are past their peak condition as they shrink in size and density as we get older. Gradual degeneration over time causes a weakening in our bones and they can fracture more easily. This can often soon develop into osteoporosis (brittle bone disease).

Our joints and muscles, too, are affected by the ageing process. They lose their flexibility and strength over time and some elderly people go on to develop arthritis and related conditions.

Eyes and Ears

As we age, the lenses in our eyes become less clear and it becomes more difficult to focus on objects. Whilst the vast majority of us will need to wear spectacles or contact lenses in order to see more clearly as we age, glaucoma is one of the conditions that is quite common in elderly people.

The auditory canal in our ears thins with age and our eardrums thicken. Years of exposure to different sounds and noise can damage the hair cells of your inner ear and age can also affect the nerves attached to it. Our hearing is affected by all of these and it becomes more difficult to hear quieter sounds as we reach our elder years. Sometimes a build up of earwax might be a contributing factor and having your ears syringed might help but, depending on the severity, some kind of hearing aid is usually required if your hearing deteriorates to a significant degree.

Sexual Dysfunction

Although impotence can affect men at any age and is caused by many different factors, some of which can often be psychological, it is increasingly common in men over 60 where a decreased blood flow to the penis often prevents men from getting an erection or it may take longer to do so or be less firm. Women, too, can also suffer with an increase in vaginal dryness as they get older.

Mental Health Problems and Nervous Disorders

Brain cells also die with ageing or get damaged which can lead to conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or some other kind of dementia related condition. Some elderly people are also particularly vulnerable to other kinds of mental illness such as anxiety, depression and even schizophrenia.

Diabetes is another condition that is more likely to manifest itself when you are older and this can be caused by a number of factors relating to high cholesterol, obesity, diet, heredity, lack of physical exercise, lifestyle, e.g smoking and emotional stress.Whilst you will hopefully never suffer from any of the conditions that can result from getting older, there are many things you can do to ensure that you try to keep in as good a physical and psychological shape as can be well beyond your retirement age and your local healthcare practice is a good place to go to get some useful advice and tips.

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