The march of time is ceaseless and each and every one of us is affected by it. From birth to adulthood we grow and develop, then, during our more senior years, the aging process is one more of degeneration. It’s a fact, as we get older our bodies start to slowdown in their functional abilities. This degeneration can be both physical and cognitive.
It is perhaps true that physical impairment affects us all as we age. However, cognitive impairment varies. At age 65 around 5% of the population experience some level of cognitive decline. By aged 85 the level of impairment increases to 40%. This may be mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or a more serious degeneration into dementia.
Aging also leaves us more vulnerable to sickness and disease. This is due to the aging process making the body’s immune system less efficient at fighting disease. The immune system has T cells, these cells attack alien cells that cause ill-health. As we age the body produces less T cells, although it is not fully understood why, thus leaving the body more susceptible to attack from rogue cells.
The area of geriatrics is a multi-faceted discipline within the medical sphere and requires a professional team of practitioners with a multitude of medical skills. The Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital understands the unique medical issues faced by the elderly, with that in mind they have created their Center for Healthy Aging.
Samitivej’s Center for Healthy Aging.
This state of the art facility has been modeled on similar successful facilities in the United States. The techniques practiced by the center are approved by the American Medical Association (AMA). Screening and treatments are based on those laid down by the USA’s Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
The facility not only assess, diagnoses and treats existing ailments of the elderly. It also offers advice to those over the age of 60 or those approaching retirement and want to prepare for what is a major lifestyle change. There is also advice and assistance to the families of aging members in order to help them understand the needs of their family seniors.
The key to the success of Samitivej’s Center for Healthy Aging is the coordinating of the multiple medical skills required in the care of the elderly. Communication through team consultations enable personalized treatment plans to be drawn up which address the particular needs of each patient.
Risks to the Elderly
Cataracts are very common amongst senior citizens, globally there are more than 65 million sufferers. There is no known definitive prevention for this condition, although some lifestyle choices may be an aggravating factor.
Cataracts are damage to the small transparent lens disc inside your eye. Cloudy patches develop which, over time, get bigger causing blurry or misty vision. Although entirely painless, untreated cataracts will cause total blindness. In fact, cataracts are the biggest single cause of blindness across the world.
Osteoarthritis afflicts many elderly people. Worldwide there are around 500 million people with osteoarthritis with 34% of over 65’s succumbing to the condition. Osteoarthritis also increases the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular and kidney disease.
Across the globe, 65 million people sufferer with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causing around 3.25 million deaths every year. This airflow blockage or restrictive condition is often caused by cigarette smoke or a polluted atmosphere. COPD encompasses many conditions, but emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the 2 most common.
There are approximately 537 million people living with diabetes, and maybe up to 240 million living with it undiagnosed. Although diabetes is not an exclusive affliction of the elderly, the risk of falling victim rises with age. Type 2 diabetes is more common in the elderly and, untreated, will vastly shorten life expectancy.
Dementia is a terrible affliction, not only affecting the victim but the whole of the family unit have to live with it. Currently around 55 million are afflicted with dementia, by the year 2030 this is expected to 78 million. The causes of dementia are not fully understood but it is widely accepted that poor lifestyle choices are a major contributing factor.
There are 1.2 billion people across the world suffering with hearing loss. Changes to the inner ear as we age is a common cause of hearing loss, although there can also be changes to the middle ear. The complex nerve pathways from the ear to the brain can also deteriorate causing hearing loss.
Hearing loss is one of the reasons that elderly people suffer with reactive balance problems. This raises the risk of broken bones and other physical injuries associated with having a fall. Falls can also be caused by muscle degeneration which many elderly people experience.
Screening and Assessment
Assessment begins with a general health review. This is vital as it will guide the physicians in any future treatment. Memory and cognitive tests will be undertaken along with hearing and sight tests. Evaluation will be done to assess overall mental wellbeing and for any levels of depression.
The team will evaluate each patient’s balance for any risk of falls as well as the patient’s self-care abilities. Tests will be done to evaluate each patient’s tolerance towards medication. A dietary review for each patient is also an important part of the assessment process in gauging a patient’s overall state of health.
The old proverb “We reap what we sow” is very pertinent when we think of our health. And, never more so is that true as we get older. We all wish to age gracefully and enjoy our dotage healthily. To do so the emphasis is on ourselves. Choosing a healthy lifestyle and being aware of our minds and bodies is vital in being able to enjoy our senior years.
Risks to the elderly are multitudinous and with the aging process the sphere of risks widens and probability increases. It is therefore essential that our elderly loved ones are cared for properly which should begin with an early health review and assessment at the Samitivej Srinakarin Center for Healthy Aging, it’s never too late to be armed with the knowledge that will help in enjoying the latter years of life.
Welcome to Motivational’s. This is Elliot Grant, fitness fanatic, and your go to advisor and blog post writer, putting your fitness first.