Preventing age-related diseases is an important factor in longevity. Gerontologists are now able to understand the factors which make us age prematurely and we can use this knowledge to delay the inevitable aging process. By making healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating healthily, exercising regularly and avoiding practices and habits which are detrimental to our well-being, we can live longer and stay healthy as we age.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of the major, preventable, age-related diseases, giving easy-to-understand definitions and information about how to prevent them.
Follow these disease prevention links to learn all you can about preventing disease and keeping healthy as you age well.
ARTERIOSLEROSIS Arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis, occurs when plaque, caused by excess fat and cholesterol, builds up inside the artery wall. When this plaque gets thick and hardens it eventually blocks the arteries. More
AGE-RELATED CANCER It is indisputable that cancer incidence in the human population increases in an almost geometric fashion with age. According to the US National Cancer Institute (NCI), the number of new cancer cases is about 10 times greater for people 65 years and older, making it one of the most common age-related diseases. More
CATARACTS A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s natural lens. The lens works on basically the same principle as that of a camera lens, allowing light through and focusing it on the retina. The lens is made up of mostly water and protein and as we age, the protein starts clumping, causing cloudiness in vision. More
CHOLESTEROL Cholesterol is not really an age-related disease, but it is worth mentioning here, as too much can lead to illness. Cholesterol is a fatty, pearl like alcohol found in the blood stream and necessary for life. It helps build and maintain cell membranes and is useful for hormone production. However, there are many negative effects to having too much. To learn more about these and how to avoid them read here. More
COLDS AND FLU Colds and Flu are not age-related diseases but flu especially can be a very serious condition in the older population and, indeed can be fatal. Therefore, it is important to know to recognize the symptoms of cold and flu, in order to differentiate between the two, be aware about how to prevent the spread of these viruses and which treatments work best. More
CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISEASE (COPD) COPD is a combination of Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema. Both cause interference with the normal flow of air into and out of the lungs and, in consequence, with the efficient transfer of oxygen to the blood. In any particular case, the relative importance of each is hard to assess, so they now tend to be classed together as Chronic Obstructive Airway (Pulmonary) Disease. It has been proven that this condition is largely caused by cigarette smoking.More
DEPRESSION Everybody feels sad sometimes or "down in the dumps", but clinical depression is something different. If someone loses a family member, a job, loses their home or finds out they have a life-threatening disease such as cancer, s/he will obviously feel devastated. They may need to seek professional help to assist them through the crisis, but will only be diagnosed as suffering from depression if certain symptoms are present Only a doctor can accurately determine whether problems have provoked a depression. Depression can occur in someone who appears to have no problems. It is not one of the age-related illnesses per se, but instances increase in older generations. More
DIABETES Diabetes is a disease in which the body cannot produce insulin or cannot use insulin to its full potential. This condition causes a build-up of sugar in the body which can cause serious problems including heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and gangrene of the lower extremities. More
DEMENTIA Dementia is a condition caused by loss of brain function provoking impaired mental ability and cognitive difficulties. Patients find it increasingly difficult to process new information, suffer from memory loss, and have problems with reasoning, judgment, perception and awareness. More
DRY EYE Dry eye syndrome occurs when the tear producing glands in the eyes do not supply enough moisture to lubricate and cleanse the eyes naturally. These glands produce less and less moisture as we age and therefore dry eye syndrome is common amongst older people who need to be extremely careful with eye care. More
ENLARGED PROSTATE. An enlarged prostate, also referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH for short, is a non-cancerous growth of the prostate gland affecting men. By enlarging, it squeezes the urethra, a tube that carries urine from the urinary bladder to the outside. This will make it very difficult to urinate. More
FIBROMYALGIA Fibromyalgia is characterized by musculoskeletal aches; soft tissue tenderness, stiffness and pain, and over all fatigue and sleep disturbances. More
GLAUCOMA glaucoma is the buildup of intraocular eye pressure. The eye is equipped with a complex drainage system and when a malfunction or blockage occurs in this drainage system, it causes fluid buildup or intraocular pressure (IOP). If left untreated, this buildup causes serious and irreversible damage to the eyes’ optic nerve. More
HAIR LOSS Hair loss is sometimes a normal seasonal occurrence, but losing too much hair probably means there is a problem. Hair loss caused by stress,pregnancy, chemotherapy, certain diseases, and various different medications, can be prevented or treated and usually grows back, but there are types of hair loss that are more normally irreversable. More
HERNIATED-DISC A herniated disc or spinal disc herniation (prolapsus disci intervertebralis/, often called a slipped disc is a common back condition that leads to irritation of spinal nerves and can cause back, hip and leg pain. More
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE high blood pressure, or hypertension, is a silent condition, often with no (or almost unnoticeable) symptoms, which can go undetected for many years, creating havoc in your body and causing other age-related diseases, before serious symptoms arise. More
INCONTINENCE Incontinence, whether it affects the bladder or the bowel, is far more prevalent than most people think. More
LOWER BACK PAIN Lower Back Pain is usually triggered by some combination of overuse, muscle strain, and injury to the muscles, ligaments, and discs that support the spine. In this article, Michelle Botes - a long-term sufferer - discusses some of the therapies used to treat it. More
MACULAR DEGENERATION In layman’s terms, Age-Related Mascular Degeneration is the painless distortion or loss of sight in a person’s visual field and is caused by damage or degeneration to the macula, mainly due to rupture of the blood vessels around the macula. The macula is the part of the retina that is responsible for clear, sharp vision and acts as the body’s natural sunglasses, absorbing any excess light that enters. More
MENOPAUSE Menopause is a natural condition of aging that occurs when a woman’s ovaries no longer produces eggs and the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. More
OSTEOARTHRITIS Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease characterized by the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. Without their cushion of cartilage the bones rub against each other causing pain, inflammation and loss of movement. More
OSTEOPOROSIS Osteoporosis (porous bones) is one of the most serious age-related diseases where the bones become fragile and more likely to break. It can be potentially debilitating or even fatal. The disease develops silently, with the sufferer showing no symptoms, until the first fracture appears. More
PARKINSON'S DISEASE Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological condition which develops in one person in every 500, mainly after the age of 50. Parkinson's destroys nerve cells in the brain causing a host of symptoms, including tremors. The death of brain cells also causes low levels of a chemical called dopamine. The lack of this chemical can mean that movements become slower so it takes longer to do things. Because the cause of the condition has yet to be discovered, there is no known cure, but several therapies can alleviate the symptoms. More
PERI-MENOPAUSE Just prior to menopause progesterone and estrogen levels begin to drop, causing menstrual cycles to become irregular. During this period of transition (known as Perimenopause) women are subjected to a bewildering number of physical and emotional symptoms, some of which are like post menstrual syndrome (PMS) in nature, others more typical of the post-menopausal woman. More
PREDIABETES Prediabetes is a serious medical condition that should be treated as it can potentially damage your heart and circulatory system and eventually lead to type 2 diabetes. It can be prevented by more physical activity watching your diet and losing excess weight. There are different tests your doctor can use to determine whether you have prediabetes and you should consult your doctor if you think you may have this condition. More
PRESBYCUSIS or age-related hearing loss is a common condition in older adults throughout the world. It starts with an ability to hear high-frequency sounds. This condition can be prevented by avoiding repeated exposure to loud noise. Sadly, this fact is often ignored by young people who listen to dangerously loud music on a regular basis, often leading to serious repercussions years later.
PRESBYOPIA or aging eyes is a condition in caused when the lens loses its ability to focus, making it difficult to see read or to see things which are up close. This causes eye strain and often leads to headaches. While many experts consider presbyopea as an inevitable part of aging and believe that nothing can be done to prevent or delay its onset, there are others who think that vitamins and eye exercises, as well as avoiding eye strain, can do much to prevent and even reverse the condition. More
SARCOPENIA is the degenerative loss of muscle mass and strength associated with aging. Regular exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise and continual activity is beneficial, even into extremely old age. While the primary treatment for sarcopenia is exercise, diet also plays a big part in managing the condition and older people, and those who care for them, should ensure that adequate protein is consumed. More
STROKE A stroke or "brain attack" is among the most serious of all the age-related diseases and kills over 80 percent of its victims, leaving two thirds of survivors with some degree of disability from minor problems such as a weakness in one of their members to complete paralysis of one side of the body and loss of speech. The stroke happens because an artery or blood vessel becomes blocked by a blood clot, preventing oxygen being carried to part of the brain. When this happens the brain cells in this area of the brain die and brain damage occurs. More
SHINGLES Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a viral disease that is caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus. It appears as a very painful rash which affects the nerve endings in people who have previously been infected with the chickenpox virus, usually as children. Although herpes zoster can effect any age group, the virus is most common in people over the age of 60 or in those whose immune systems do not function effectively, such as the HIV positive and AIDS or cancer patients. More
SWINEFLU Swineflu is the popular name given to a new strain of influenza virus, officially named A(H1N1) by the World Health Organization (WHO). The virus has been named “swine flu” by the media and the general population, because it is believed that this virus strain resulted from the combination of different virus strains (from humans, birds and pigs), and the subsequent swapping of genetic material, whilst being hosted in pigs. Although the 2009 Pandemic of H1N1 was officially declared over in October 2010 and internationally countries are considering new flu outbreaks as seasonal flu, there have been reports of a new outbreak in the UK in December 2010. More
Although aging is inevitable, you can slow down and delay the aging process by adopting healthy habits and dropping practices which are bad for your health and which promote age-related diseases and conditions:-
Lose Excess Weight Being obese or overweight puts an extra stress on your body and makes you more liable to suffer from Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and other age-related illnesses. Learn how to control your weight and increase your well-being.
Lose Belly Fat Belly fat is not just unsightly, but makes you more susceptible to various age-related diseases including diabetes, blood pressure heart disease, stroke and certain cancer. Learn how to banish your middle age spread.
Quit Smoking Now Apart from the fact that it favors the development of wrinkles and makes you look older, smoking can be a real danger to your health. Learn how to beat this unpleasant habit.
Cut Down Your Alcohol Intake It is notorious for provoking a whole host of social problems, but drinking to access can also ruin your health, causing high blood pressure, heart problems, cirrhosis of the liver and many cancers of the digestive system. Learn how to moderate or quit drinking.
Get Enough Sleep If you don’t feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning or pass the day in a semi-comatose state, or fighting the urge to nod off, especially during boring meetings or activities, chances are you are not getting enough sleep for your needs.
Eat Healthily A healthy diet can contribute to living an active life well into old age and to preserving your independence.
Cut Down on Salt Too much salt is one of the main causes of hypertension and can lead to a variety of other conditions and diseases, including oedema, kidney stones, heart attack and stroke. Find out how much salt is too much and how to cut down your salt intake.
Cut Down on Sugar to avoid age-related diseases Eating too much sugar not only makes you put on weight, but it also depresses your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to disease. Learn why sugar is bad for you and why you should cut down now.
Avoid Trans fats Research has shown that consuming a diet high in trans fats puts us asterisk of developing atherosclerosis, stroke, type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. Trans fats raise LDL (bad cholesterol) levels whilst reducing HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
Follow the DASH Meal Plan The DASH Diet is a diet based on the eating habits prevalent in Mediterranean countries. It can help lower blood pressure, promote weight loss and prevent cardiac disease and stroke.
Drink Plenty of Water Not drinking enough can lead to serious health problems. A loss of 5% can lead to unconsciousness and a loss of 10% of the body’s fluid can be fatal. This is why it is so important to drink lots of fluid on a daily basis.
Exercise Regularly Exercise helps you look and feel well, lose weight, tone the body, fight depression, helps to prevent age-related disease and slows down the aging process.
Manage Your Stress As well as effects like sleep deprivation or the breakdown of relationships, too much stress could contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes and other illnesses. Learn some techniques to help you manage stress.
This site intends to help you Age Well. It will give information on the prevention of early aging, giving tips on how you can slow down the aging process naturally. It gives advice on how you can knock years off your actual age so that you both look and feel good, while also keeping your mind alert. It also makes suggestions about how to quit habits which damage and age your body and can also affect your brain.
This particular page has links to background information on age-related diseases and give you disease prevention strategies so that you can enjoy your golden years free from too many restrictions and the financial restraints which these illnesses can cause.
Although the web is a fantastic resource for finding out as much as possible about different illnesses, remember that this advice cannot replace the diagnosis of a doctor who has studied medicine for many years and has the practical experience to analyse the different symptoms.
Always consult a doctor if you are worried about your health.
Mary Treacy is the founder and contributing editor of age-well.org. She has over thirty years of experience working with non-profit, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), mainly business associations, and is an experienced writer in many sectors including co-operatives, agriculture, commmerce, housing, insurance, banking and health. You can find her on Google + and Twitter.