When you hear of a study conducted in terms of leading health concerns among seniors, wouldn’t you think that dementia or things like incontinence would be near the top of the list? Oddly, those two concerns don’t enter into surveys or studies on just what is concerning our seniors. You might be surprised to learn just what those pervasive issues are that give rise to so much thought within our elderly community and the healthcare professionals who treat them. Here are the leading concerns as outlined by the University of Rochester Medical Center.
1) Nutrition and Physical Activity
This should come as no surprise because as we age, we tend to cook less which means we eat out more. Families have fled the nest and as a person living alone or an older couple, there is no reason to cook full course meals any longer complete with vegetables and foods low in fat and salt. Also, we tend to exercise less, are less active all the way around and not being as socially active, we don’t get the exercise we once did dancing, running and playing games like golf, tennis or even swimming!
2) Issues with Being Overweight or Obese
A direct result of the previous concern can lead to issues with being overweight and sometimes even within the range of obesity. We eat the wrong foods at the wrong times of day and with a general lack of physical activity, those calories sit in all the wrong places. It is suggested that seniors make a concerted effort to get out and about more because an increase in activity can quickly help shed the pounds.
3) Smoking / Tobacco
Today’s seniors, for the most part, became addicted to tobacco products often before the Surgeon General issued the warning in 1964. That dedicated doctor was Luther L. Terry and his warning was the result of the very first report which was issued by the Surgeon General’s Commission on Smoking and Health.
4) Drug Addiction / Substance Abuse
Here is one that may come as a surprise as well. Today’s seniors are more concerned about substance abuse or drug addiction than they are dementia. They express a concern for a general lack of treatment centers and are interested in what the country is doing in the way of addiction treatment. While it isn’t perfectly clear why this is such a big issue, it is presumed that their concern is for adult children suffering from substance abuse. These people are, for the most part, elderly and their children are in their late thirties to mid-forties, many of whom have been introduced to illicit drugs because they are so prevalent in society and have been for many years now.
5) HIV and/or AIDS
Of all the concerns seniors have, this is perhaps the biggest shocker of all! In days gone by you wouldn’t have caught a senior concerned over what is largely a sexually transmitted disease, but today’s seniors do seem to be highly concerned. It is perhaps because they were at the height of their sexual activity in the early 1980s when the disease was first made known and highly publicized in the media. For whatever reason, HIV/AIDS is number 5 on the list of leading health concerns of seniors in 2017.
While you may find many of these a bit surprising, they are a real assessment of health related concerns among today’s seniors. It will be interesting to note what the concerns will be when Gen X reaches their senior years, but for now, these should be the focus of healthcare providers within the geriatric community.