Older people are more susceptible to certain diseases and conditions. This is because the body does not remain the same as you age. The immune system gets weaker, your joints become stiff, and some organs in your body would start to decline in their functions.
Many people have come to regard this as a normal phase in life and, in a place like Nigeria, such things are regarded as proof that someone has lived a long life. But you can live a healthier life when you are old by doing the right things when you are young. This includes eating healthily, staying fit, and quitting certain habits like smoking. That way, you can reduce the risk of coming down with one condition or the other, and manage your life better.
Today, we would be looking at common illnesses that affect older people in Nigeria.
All around the world, arthritis is one of the most common sicknesses that affect people as they age. Arthritis causes pain and inflammation around the joints, which could lead to swelling and stiffness. This often makes movement difficult, forcing people suffering it to use a cane or other forms of support to walk and move around. It affects women more than men.
Although arthritis affects people as they age, some common causes that could trigger it include obesity, genetics, and joint injury. There are treatments that can be used to manage the pain and reduce inflammation. Exercises could also be recommended to someone suffering from it.
Diabetes could affect anyone, but it is more common in older people. It is a condition that occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin to regulate rising blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas. In severe cases, diabetes could lead to death, which is why care is very important.
Diabetes can be maintained by eating healthily, which involves reducing your sugar and intake, and keeping fit with exercise.
3. Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease is a condition that affects the proper function of the kidney. This may lead to other conditions like heart disease, anaemia, diabetes, and so on. In severe cases, the affected kidney could be damaged beyond management and would need to be replaced through a transplant.
Although cancer could affect anybody, older people are at greater risk of having cancer. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in people who are 65 and above. Early detection and treatment is key to beating the disease. That is why one should endeavour to go for a checkup as often as possible.
5. Heart Disease
Heart disease is also another leading cause of death in people who are old. This is often caused by high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels in the blood. Other factors that can increase the risk of having heart disease include diabetes, obesity, and habits like smoking.
Making certain changes, like losing weight, eating healthily, and quitting smoking, can reduce the risks of having heart disease.
Dementia is a disorder that affects the function of the brain, leading to conditions like memory loss, confusion, difficulty in reading and communicating, and so on. While older people are more likely to have dementia, it is not part of the normal ageing process. A study on prevalence of dementia in Nigeria indicated that more women than men suffer from dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is a specific type of dementia that is characterised by memory loss and other mental difficulties.
Cataracts is an eye disease characterized with the clouding of the clear lens of the eye. This condition develops when aging or injury changes the tissue in the eye’s lens. It causes proteins and fibers in the lens to break down, leading to hazy or cloudy vision. Cataracts is one of the most common Illnesses that affects older people in Nigeria. A survey on the prevalence of cataracts in Nigeria found out that 1.8% of adults in Nigeria aged 40 and above had cataract-related blindness. You can adopt healthy habits and prevent cataracts as you age.