A person generally has five stages of life – infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. Every one of us faces plenty of issues throughout these five stages be it physical, mental or financial. But as we acquire a few more decades under the notch, these problems become more common and more serious. Most people view old age as an undesirable stage of life full of old age problems that are unavoidable. These undesirable and hence neglected problems commonly appear after the age of 65 years.
The old age problems we will address here are divided into 5 parts that go by –
All of these old age problems together affect an elderly’s ability to be physically active, be social, take care of themselves or feel happy at all. Hence, if one addresses these issues it is possible to minimize if not eliminate the old age problems.
5 commonly neglected old age problems
As we age, we encounter many changes in our body as well as our life. These old age problems are also co-related, i.e. one can be the cause for the birth of another. The changes or issues aren’t necessarily an indication of any underlying diseases but can be upsetting for an individual. Although these issues related to ageing cannot be stopped, being conscious of these changes and adapting to a healthy lifestyle can minimize the impact on the senior’s health.
1. Physical Old Age Problems
It is not an unknown fact that old age is a period of decline. Even when the changes in body do not appear instantly, it will appear slowly with the days passing by. Their physical strength comes to a pause, creating many physical limitations which also lead to limitations in lifestyle activities. The nature of the physical decline depends on many factors such as – faulty diet, lifestyle habits, intoxications, stress, lack of rest, overwork, disorders and environmental conditions like too much heat or cold. The physical old age problems one faces are –
- Skin: The flexibility or tightening of skin completely damages making it more thin, loose, fragile and wrinkly. Bruises are easy identified and along with them come the age spots and skin tags. The skin also becomes more dry and itchy due to less production of natural skin oil and moisture. It takes more time to heal itself in case of accidents, therefore making the senior vulnerable to infections.
- Mobility: Old age problems related to mobility is one of the most commonly distressing issues which can lead to plenty of other diseases. Bones lose their density and shrink in size making them more vulnerable to fractures. Muscles shrink as well and become weaker making them vulnerable to sprains. Joints suffer the most from wear and tear. They become weak, swollen and less flexible making it hard for the senior to have a definite mobility control. The lack of activity in the body created by weak mobility gives birth to body shape issues. This can lead to diseases like obesity and diabetes.
- Hormones And Endocrine Glands: Hormonal changes are extremely common in old age. The hormonal control of blood sugar and carbohydrate metabolism declines, leading to conditions like diabetes. Thyroid dysfunction and issues related to fat and cholesterol metabolism are also commonly faced. Calcium and vitamin D metabolism are also altered at an old age. Sexual hormones reach a low density and can result in erectile dysfunction and vaginal dryness.
- Immune: This is one of the most worrying old age problems next to mobility. It is only natural for the body’s immune system to get weaker with age. Our immune system is the main defence mechanism of our body against harmful diseases. When it gets weakened, it acts as an open invitation to germs and diseases to attack and reside inside our weak body. The blood cells that fight against various infections, called white blood cells, become comparatively less operative leading to more frequent infections such as pneumonia.
2. Mental Old Age Problems
Mental or psychological disorders are quite common with old age. These can be treated with psychological therapies according to the DSM (diagnostic and statistical manual of psychological disorders). Here are the five major mental old age problems faced by elderly people –
- Depression: It is a very common psychological issue and people of all ages suffer from it. The effects and symptoms of depression often vary from person to person and can have a great impact on a person’s over-all life. Some symptoms of depression are – feeling sad without a reason, lack of motivation, loss of self-worth, fluctuating weight, loss of appetite, suicidal thoughts, etc.
- Memory Problems: A person suffering from memory problems lose parts or all of their memory. It’s not just the usual day-to-day forgetfulness but complete extermination of any or all occasions and relations. Some symptoms of memory loss are – confusion and incapability to recognize places and faces.
- Dementia: It is considered the mother of all diseases. People who suffer from dementia usually lose their mental ability to function ordinarily in their daily life. It can be caused by some kind of tumour, infection, vitamin deficiency or lack of oxygen. The symptoms of dementia include – short-term memory loss, changes in mood, apathy, confusion or a failing sense of direction.
- Sleeping Disorders: Elderly people are more vulnerable to old age problems related to sleep such as insomnia than younger adults. Insomnia may be the result of too much stress anxiety or even irregular use of stimulants such as nicotine or even medicines. The symptoms of this disorder include the inability to sleep quickly, trouble staying asleep or waking up early.
- Alzheimer’s disease: It is a kind of dementia in which victims get stuck in a specific memory and they believe to be a part of it. It’s a neurodegenerative disease and involves shrinkage of brain tissues. In most cases, Alzheimer’s is caused due to genetic mutation passed on to children from their parents. However, it is possible to be treated with psychological therapies and the symptoms can be fairly reduced. The symptoms of this disease are – the inability to rationalize events, forgetting one’s relations and the loss of ability to communicate.
3. Emotional Old Age Problems
The decline in physical and mental ability makes the elderly dependent on their families or caretakers. Over a period of time, they stop trusting their own ability to do something on their own. Either way, they still want to have control over the younger ones in the family and get involved in all family matters and issues. Due to the generation gap, even the youngsters of the family do not spend enough time with the seniors or even pay attention to their advice.
Instead of sympathizing towards the elderly of the family, the younger ones create a distance which gives the seniors a sense of isolation in their own family. This has a major effect on their dignity and self-worth. To worsen emotional old age problems, loss of a spouse can act as a major vulnerability. Losing a life partner can make anyone feel lonely and isolated especially during at such an old age.
It a greater loss when one’s family doesn’t even spend time with them, almost isolating the seniors. Many families also leave their elders alone in old age homes due to selfish reasons. This sort of negligence and indifferent behaviour towards older people creates many emotional old age problems for the poor elderly.
Also check: How To Live Happy And Healthy As An Older Woman?
4. Social Old Age Problems
The older people suffer through social losses more than the younger ones. Their social circle is narrowed down by the loss of mutual activities, death of friends or relatives and their weak health that prevents them from participating in most social events. Their only social life is limited to their home with family members. Even in their own home, members are busy with their own lives – children are busy playing with friends or studying and adults are busy earning for a living.
Even if the family members try to spend time with the elderly, they are not able to invest a considerable amount of time due to various reasons. Seniors having chronic health problems are also unable to spend time with others are stay by themselves through long hours. It is true when they say that spending time with your loved ones can cure many issues, but sadly many family members forget these simple things.
Many individuals are not able to spend time with their seniors even if they want to, due to their own corporate or student lives. This leaves the seniors feeling lonely, isolated and even depressed. Therefore, social old age problems and emotional old age problems are closely related and one can affect the other. In such cases, a senior can be admitted to a respected old age home or even appoint a caretaker. It may not fully solve the issue but can reduce the negative effects as they will always have someone’s company.
5. Financial Old Age Problems
When a person retires from their job, they face a lot of financial crisis due to lack of income. Even though the seniors may plan their savings and investments, they still worry that their financial future might be cloudier than expected. The pensions that an elderly receive upon retirement may be enough to meet the basic needs but it still isn’t enough to meet the rising prices of living.
They may also have to spend on the marriage of children, their education, buying or selling property or even family maintenance. Their medical expenses are the cherry on top of it all. More than 60% of an elder’s income is spent on hospital and medical bills, creating more financial old age problems for them. Running out of money is the most common fear when it comes to financial old age problems. Many older adults had taken up retirement jobs to meet their financial needs, which also lead to stress and anxiety when overworked.
Many seniors still have to pay for their kid’s bills, leaving very little money for themselves. A child’s unexpected debts and bills can also have a great effect on savings and retirement plans. Due to lack of scope in a healthy earning during old age, the seniors are always in stress to the point where they are forced to sell their ancestry materials and properties.
Old age can be a period of physical decline and social isolation due to various reasons such as – physical limitations, chronic diseases, loss of friends, spouse, jobs, ancestry property, etc. Seniors also suffer from mental disorders and can even lose their dignity and self-worth if not taken care of properly. They feel or are isolated by social circles or their own families due to generation gap or disorders. It can soon become a period of deterioration, disappointment, depression and dejection.
Although these cases cannot be removed completely, the results can be minimized if they take proper steps and measures at the right time. An elderly always provide love and affection to a family. They always love to look after the children and relive their youth. Elders of a family shall be respected as they are the family’s wisdom holders and can provide great advice as well as knowledge in family matters and business. Even though old age brings along with it several issues and diseases, one must keep himself physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and financially active to live a cheerful and dignified during his golden years.
We hope this article was of help to you and you take the proper measures for your elderly or even for yourself at an old age. Old age problems are common for everyone and can be dealt with effectively with proper plans and measures. Regardless of however a senior might be suffering, physically or mentally, it is important to treat them with equal respect and dignity. Share this article with your friends, family and relatives to let them know the 5 commonly neglected old age problems so that they can take measures against it as soon as possible! And do share your views with us, we would love to hear from our readers!