November 04, 2022 3 min read
Imagine this: A person retiring at 65 years old in Singapore would still have about two or more decades of life ahead of them. Thanks to advancements in healthcare and early detection of health conditions, many people in Singapore are now living longer lives.
However, longer life expectancy does not necessarily entail growing older in good health. In a 2017 survey involving 4,500 elderly respondents aged 60 and above, 37% of them reported that they suffered from at least three chronic health conditions. This is a troubling thought as it does not include other common health issues that the elderly commonly face, including mobility problems, weakening immunity, and cognitive decline.
So, our parents and grandparents may be living longer – but in what state of health? In order to enjoy our golden years to the fullest, what is crucial here is to encourage early detection, optimise management of the symptoms, and aim to slow down the progress of any health problems. If you are a caregiver for an elderly family member, it might be helpful to understand some of these common health problems and learn how to help your loved ones navigate it.
Let’s explore some of these common health issues that elderly in Singapore face:
1. High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol
Many people, especially older adults, live with high blood pressure and/or high blood cholesterol without feeling the effects of these conditions on their lives. However, these two conditions are potentially silent killers as they contribute to higher risk of heart disease, kidney failure, and stroke. Besides relying on medication, elderly persons with high blood pressure and/or high blood cholesterol should try to adopt a healthy diet with less salt, less fats, and more fibre. It is also important to avoid leading a sedentary lifestyle and incorporating as much movement and activity as possible in their day-to-day life.
The incidence of type 2 diabetes has been on the rise because of the wide availability and popularity of high-sugar foods in our modern society. Caused by high blood sugar levels, diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to use or produce insulin properly. This can lead to a slew of other health problems like stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, eye problems, nerve damage, or an increased risk of infections.
Diabetes or prediabetes can be managed with a combination of exercise and healthier diet choices, which include healthy carbs, fibre-rich foods and less fats (choose heart-healthy fats instead). We recommend planning out the diet with your healthcare professional.
Cataracts cause cloudy vision that worsens over time. Older persons with cataracts may have trouble reading, experience dim vision, and have difficulty recognising facial expressions. They may also find it harder to see at night, and as their condition worsens, they may also see light flashes, ‘halos’ in their vision, or experience headaches and dizziness as a result of their distorted eyesight.
Thankfully, cataract surgery is quite a safe and effective procedure. However, caregivers and elderly persons need to be vigilant about the symptoms and consult an eye doctor as soon as any possibility of cataracts are spotted.
4. Joint pain, arthritis, or rheumatism
Joint pain is a common complaint amongst seniors, which may be a result of arthritis, rheumatism, or other types of joint inflammation. The most common type affecting elderly persons is osteoarthritis, a condition in which cartilage around the joints wears off and exposes the bone, leading to inflammation and pain.
Coupled with weakening muscles and general frailty, seniors may be more prone to falls and serious injuries. While joint pain in old age can only be managed and not cured, falls are a preventable scenario that can be mitigated with elder-friendly home fittings such as grab bars, ramps, and walking aids. For those with less mobility, a lightweight transport wheelchair or lift recliner for the elderly may also help them feel more comfortable when moving around or resting.
For elderly persons living with existing chronic illnesses, caregivers must learn more about these conditions so we can help them manage these conditions better. You should also watch out for telltale signs that your elderly loved ones need more help. Besides this, we can also help them alleviate the discomfort and work with them to slow down the progress of their conditions.
There may come a time when you need to make changes to your home to make it more elder-friendly and comfortable for your older loved ones. Here at The Golden Concepts, we supply a variety of eldercare home fittings and equipment, including home care beds and geriatric chairs in Singapore. If you are looking for anything to improve your parents or grandparents’ quality of life at home, we welcome you to speak with us to find the perfect solution to suit your needs.
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