Aging is one of the most common risk factors for many diseases. When you age, all of your body systems tend to have a functional decline due to long periods of wear and tear (especially if you don’t lead an active lifestyle).
Mobility problems frequently affect older adults. Listed below are the most common diseases that lead to mobility problems in later life:
Based on a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 54.4 million adults in the United States who suffer from arthritis. Arthritis is a disease of the joints characterized by joint pain, inflammation, and limited range of motion. Among the many types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common.
In osteoarthritis, the cartilage that functions as a cushion between two bones wears away and thins out, making the bone ends rub painfully against each other. This results in an extreme pain and swelling. Osteoarthritis is caused by a long-term wear and tear, making it common in the elderly population, and usually affects the weight-bearing joints including the spine, hips, and knees. Osteoarthritis can also affect the joints of your neck, hands, and feet.
How to Prevent Osteoarthritis
- Be physically active. Performing regular low-impact exercises that include flexibility and strength training can contribute to joint health, increase muscle strength, and improve joint flexibility.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts more load and pressure on your weight-bearing joints, making them prone to osteoarthritis.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3. This nutrient has a known anti-inflammatory effect, which can help relieve joint inflammation and prevent disease progression. Omega-3-rich foods include salmon, mackerel, tuna, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
How to Deal with Arthritis
- Wear a knee brace for additional knee support, compression, and pain relief.
- Use mobility aids to lessen the pressure on your joints and facilitate your movement.
- Apply a heat pad to reduce joint stiffness in the morning.
- Apply an ice pack to relieve joint pain and inflammation in the evening.
- Take prescribed medications.
Osteoporosis is characterized by bone loss resulting in porous and brittle bones. The condition is common among the older adult population and affects 200 million women around the world. It commonly manifests in your wrists, spine, and hips which can lead to mobility problems.
Back pain is common in people with osteoporosis as the spine becomes brittle and ineffective in maintaining its alignment and bearing your upper body weight. Generally, osteoporosis is asymptomatic and is only diagnosed after a bone fracture injury.
How to Prevent Osteoporosis
- Eat calcium-rich foods. Calcium improves your bone density and prevents bone loss. Incorporate calcium-rich foods and drinks in your diets such as cheese, milk, yogurt, kale, sardines, and broccoli.
- Exercise regularly. According to the NHS, you need to perform 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week to prevent osteoporosis. Resistance and aerobic exercises are also essential to increase bone density and increase muscle strength.
- Limit intake of caffeinated beverages. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee, soda, and tea decrease calcium absorption.
How to Deal with Osteoporosis
- Consider using mobility aids such as canes or walking sticks to reduce the pressure on your back and hips.
- Wear a back brace to alleviate back pain, provide an additional back support, and to facilitate posture correction.
- Prevent falls. Since your bones have become brittle and fragile, reduce your risk of fall-related injuries by ensuring home and personal safety. Consider modifying your home, adding grab bars and banisters, installing additional lights, and addressing bathroom hazards.
- Eat healthy foods. Eat foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D to tone down the disease progression.
Although ageing is a non-modifiable risk factor, these diseases are largely preventable through leading an active lifestyle and eating a healthy diet. If you can no longer manage your mobility problems at home, consult your doctor for a more disease-specific medical intervention.