In 2010, Americans 65 or older represented nearly 13 percent of the population, numbering around 40 million. In the next 20 years, the Department of Health and Human Resources expects that number to skyrocket to more than 72 million.
Aging Americans face specific health conditions – including incontinence, joint problems and diabetes — which means health care providers are likely to see more of these cases as the years go by.
Stress Urinary Incontinence
Aging adults commonly experience stress urinary incontinence (SUI). This condition occurs when someone loses strength of the bladder muscles and experiences involuntary urine leakage during activities like coughing, sneezing, laughing and exercise. SUI affects far more women than men, and commonly affects people with Parkinson’s disease and various forms of dementia.
There are several methods of treating SUI. Doctors may ask patients to make lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or drinking less. Medication and surgery are other treatment options.
In women, doctors often choose to insert a bladder sling to support the bladder. Patients need to be aware, however, that there are risks that come with these mesh implants.
Hip deterioration also commonly occurs in older adults. The hip is a very stable part of the body, but wear and tear over the years and diseases like arthritis and osteoporosis can take their toll, making daily tasks extremely difficult and painful. Hip problems often occur as the result of a fall.
Hip problems often are treated with medication, physical therapy or hip replacement surgery. Hip replacement is considered safe and successful, however, patients should be aware that there are risks .
In recent years, several companies that manufacture hip implants have been sued by people who received their products and experienced serious complications. Just DePuy alone has about 8,000 lawsuits that are pending.
More than a quarter of the estimated 26 million Americans with diabetes are 65 or older.
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas fails to make enough insulin to regulate blood sugar or the body fails to use the insulin efficiently. Most people with the condition have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 is caused by family history, lack of exercise and obesity.
Diabetes can lead to serious complications and health problems, including blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage and problems with the heart.
Seniors need to do everything possible to manage their diabetes. That can be done by losing weight, eating healthy foods and getting regular physical exercise.
There are also medications that help regulate insulin production. Patients and doctors should be aware of the side effects of certain diabetes medications, including Januvia and Byetta.
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About Jennifer Mesko:
Jennifer Mesko is the managing editor of Drugwatch.com, a consumer advocacy website. She aims to keep the public informed about dangerous prescription drugs and defective medical devices.