Physical & Mental Health

9 Health Conditions to Be Aware Of At Age 50+

New research and medical advancements in healthcare are making it possible for people to live longer, higher-quality lives as they age. However, there are still a few health conditions that people over the age of 50 and seniors, are more prone to developing.

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(Photo: CDC via Unsplash)

1. Pneumonia

As you get older, you’re more susceptible to infections like pneumonia. This causes inflammation in the lungs, and while anyone can contract pneumonia, seniors are more at risk for the infection.

Pneumonia symptoms can often look like flu or cold symptoms: fever, chills, chest pain and a persistent cough.

If these symptoms persist for more than a few days, you should call your doctor.

2. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a common condition among seniors and older adults, in which bones gradually become more porous and decrease in density. This makes them more fragile and puts you at risk for serious injury if you experience a bad fall or traumatic event like a car accident.

Symptoms include loss of height, back pain, or an easy bone fracture. 

Women are more likely to develop this condition, but men should also be aware of signs and treatment options available for bone mass loss.

3. Shingles

If you ever had the chicken pox as a child,  you’re susceptible to shingles as an adult. Shingles is an infection that causes a painful rash and comes from the same virus as chicken pox, which stays dormant in your system after its initial outbreak.

While it can affect anyone, shingles is most common in seniors and people over the age of 50.

To prevent shingles, talk to your doctor about a shingles vaccine. 

4. Kidney Disease

Kidney disease develops as your kidneys lose their function over time. Their primary job is to remove waste from the bloodstream, such as creatinine. When they lose this ability, toxins build up and cause serious damage.

It’s estimated that more than 50 percent of people over the age of 75 live with various stages of kidney disease. Symptoms include difficulty or pain while urinating, bloody urine, or swelling in the hands and feet.

Talk to your doctor about care options available for kidney disease, such as home dialysis and high creatinine level treatment.

5. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve in your eyes, causing about 10 percent of blindness in the U.S. Seniors are among those most affected by glaucoma.

Signs of Glaucoma include loss of peripheral vision, red or hazy eyes, pain in the eyes, and seeing halos around light sources. However, it can also develop without showing any symptoms at all.

Be sure to schedule an annual eye exam to detect early signs of glaucoma.

6. Cataracts

Another eye condition that develops as you age is cataracts.

Cataracts are cloudy areas in the lens of the eye that can lead to vision loss. Cataracts usually develop over the course of a few years.

It is a completely manageable condition; if you experience blurry vision or trouble seeing at night, visit your optometrist for more information about treatment.

7. Depression

As you age, it’s not uncommon to feel depressed, even if you’ve lived most of your life without a mental health condition. 1-20 percent of seniors and older adults experience depression, which can be associated with lower immunity, decreased physical activity, and reduced social interaction.

Signs of depression include persistent sadness, loss of interest in daily activities or hobbies, and loss of energy. 

To treat depression, talk to your doctor about getting therapy or medication

8. Cardiovascular Disease

Chronic heart disease, congestive heart failure, and arrhythmia are all conditions that stem from cardiovascular disease. CVD is the most common cause of death in older adults.

Symptoms including a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest “fluttering”, and chest pain. 

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

9. Gum Disease

While people of all ages can contract gum disease, the mouth can become dry with age and certain medications over time. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that 70 percent of adults over the age of 65 have gum disease / periodontal disease.

If you have dry mouth or tooth loss and decay, you may be developing gum disease. 

Make sure you stay up-to-date with your dental exams and cleanings to prevent gum disease.

Getting older can be a wonderful time to reflect and explore the world in new ways, and being aware of your health can help ensure that the 50+ years are the best years of your life.

You may also be interested in Age 50+ Common Cancers and Early Detection

*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical or mental health advice, nor is it a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician or mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. In the event of a medical emergency, call a doctor or 911 immediately. This website does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site. Reliance on any information provided by this website is solely at your own risk.*

Jenny Hart

Jenny Hart is a health and wellness writer with a passion for travel, cycling, and books. Her focus is topics related to the effects of aging on health and she is interested in research that can help people age better. When she isn’t writing or traveling, she’s traversing NYC with her two dogs Poochie and Ramone.

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