Over the last few decades, the world has seen a drastic increase in the human life expectancy. In 1800, an average person could live up to 25 years. Today, the global average life expectancy is 70 years. The miracles of modern medicine and public health initiatives have helped us live longer than before – to the extent that we might be running out of innovations to extend human life any further. But the pros of increased life expectancy come with their own set of cons. As people age, they experience natural wear and tear of the body, which makes them more vulnerable to age-related diseases and health issues. Also, our lifestyle choices of today make a great impact on the quality of life tomorrow. By preventing health problems before they arise or identifying them early, you are more likely to live a longer healthier and happier life.
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What is preventive healthcare?
It’s all about being proactive rather than reactive.
It is routine healthcare that involves screening, checkups and patient counselling to prevent the occurrence of a disease or halt a disease and avert the resulting complications after its onset. It also evaluates any risk of future diseases.
Common diseases of old age and reasons to prevent them
Along with wisdom, old age brings a plethora of health problems. Your immune system isn’t as strong as it used to be. You start losing muscle mass. Obesity, high blood sugar, hypertension do not allow you to live without medicines. Ageing affects your sleep-wake pattern. Your dietary and nutritional needs take a drastic turn, and a mountain of medicines sitting on your dressing table takes a toll on your mind and body. Let’s take a look at some of the common diseases of old age.
Creaking knees, hips and ankles aren’t necessarily normal aches and pains that come with age. It might be arthritis. Arthritis is an age-related degenerative inflammation of joints, cartilages and bones, which worsens with age. You are likely to experience swelling, pain, stiffness and diminished motion in your joints, especially knees. Although medication and therapy can help reduce the pain, arthritis has no cure. It is one of the common causes of physical disability among older adults.
Ever wondered why people hunch forward in posture as they grow older? Osteoporosis is one of the common reasons for hunchbacks. Bone is a living tissue, which is in a continuous state of breakdown and reformation. As you grow older, there is significant reduction in bone formation. Your bones start losing mass and density, making you look shorter. In old age, osteoporosis is very common. It makes bones weak and brittle, so much that even a minor fall can leave you with fractured bone, more commonly in hip, wrist or spine. Weak bones cause back pain and stooped posture, making you look shorter over time.
From the time of tasting urine for diagnosis and collecting animal insulin for treatment, diabetes has been one of the greatest mysteries and challenges of the medical world. Although it can now occur at any age, diabetes is commonly a disease of old age. With age, your pancreas cannot effectively produce insulin and glucagon—hormones required for maintaining blood glucose levels. This causes high blood glucose levels. Unmanaged blood sugar gives you increased sugar cravings, and high sugar intake puts you at the doorstep of diabetes. Once you open the door, diabetes greets you with a never-ending list of comorbidities, like high cholesterol, hypertension, kidney diseases and liver diseases.
Heart disease remains the leading killer in old age. Natural ageing makes changes (e.g., weak muscles and stiffening vessels) in the heart and blood vessels, making it more prone to injuries. This gives way to hypertension and high cholesterol, which increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases, like heart attack, stroke and coronary artery disease. In >75-year-old people, congestive heart failure occurs 10 times more often than in younger adults. Also, the outside stress you put on your heart at a young age does not help later at all.
Older age is a key predictor of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Nearly 11% of >65-year-old adults without hypertension or diabetes have creatinine levels that represent stage 3 or worse CKD. Research suggests that diverse factors contribute to this scarring process, such as tissue ischemia, injury, metabolic defects and obesity. If you are an older adult with diabetes, hypertension and/or family history of CKD, go for annual kidney screening. Because kidney disease develops slowly with few symptoms, and many people don’t realize they have it until the disease is advanced. If untreated, CKD can lead to kidney failure.
The liver performs hundreds of vital functions, including digesting food and eliminating toxic substances. It also produces bile, a fluid that helps digest fats and carry away waste. A number of structural and microscopic changes occur as the liver ages. The liver loses the ability to metabolise substances. Hence, some drugs are not inactivated as quickly in older people as they are in younger people. Also, the liver’s ability to withstand stress decreases, and toxic substances can cause more damage in older age. Damaged liver cells take too long to repair. The production and flow of bile decreases with ageing, and you can develop gallstones.
Benefits of preventive healthcare in old age
Age is just a number. Don’t let it stop you from living life to the fullest.
Are you at risk of diseases?
Conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes often don’t cause symptoms early on. Keeping track of your weight, blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels can help doctors spot the signs of diseases early. Studying family history allows flagging of risks for inherited conditions, such as cancer or diabetes. Preventive healthcare helps in early diagnosis of health conditions or risk factors for life-threatening diseases.
Early treatment and less complications
Many diseases are easiest to treat when they’re caught in their early stages. Early diagnosis means early treatment, and early treatment means less complications and comorbidities of the disease. A win-win situation that helps you with early recovery from any health problems or stops the disease from either developing altogether.
Managing preexisting conditions
In old age, the body often shows drastic physiological changes, such as sudden weight gain or loss, dry skin, lethargic behaviour and increased or decreased hunger. In such cases, it’s advisable to get your thyroid tested. However, for maximum gain, you should look to get these tests done regularly to foresee a disease and guard against it for a cure.
Choose a healthy life today for a healthier tomorrow!
Increased life span
With regular health checkups, you can be sure of how healthy you are or how you need to improve. Your doctor will guide you with a healthy diet, fitness, sleep patterns and stress habits. If you smoke or drink, the doctors will help you with quitting. By following the preventive healthcare advice of healthcare professionals and making healthy lifestyle choices you can increase your lifespan.
Lower healthcare costs
In 2004, Tampa General Hospital, Florida, USA, filed what’s possibly the largest bill in the history of hospitals ever against a deceased patient, $9.2 millions.
No doubt healthcare is costly, and if you don’t have health insurance, several healthcare procedures, like organ transplants and heart surgeries, can raise your bills in 7 digits. Good preventive health checkups do not only keep you healthy. They are also a great way of saving your hard-earned money in the long run because you can reduce the risk of undergoing surgeries and other chronic medical conditions by proactive remediation.
Testing at Thyrocare
“Prevention is better than cure” is true in almost all aspects of life, especially when it comes to healthcare. Thyrocare provides Aarogyam packages to screen for health conditions on time and aim to promote preventive healthcare in elderly. The packages include different parameters, like complete hemogram, liver profile, kidney profile, cardiac risk markers, lipid analysis, thyroid functioning, iron deficiency, diabetes profile, vitamins profile, toxic elements and numerous further. Book Aarogyam packages today for a long and healthy life!