Issues Affecting the Aged
Old people experience many health problems, and decline in physical and mental abilities attributed to biological, psychological, cultural and social facets. They have limited regenerative abilities and they are more susceptible to diseases, syndromes and health disorders as compared to other age groups. The physical changes that occur in old age due to change in the cell structures and physiologies include; development of wrinkles, diminished eyesight, loss of hair, change of hair color, reduced hearing, agility, reduced libido, poor memory, greater weakness to bone diseases, reduced body size, reduced balance, and changes in voice and language processing (Cavanaugh & Blanchard-Fields, 2006). Apart from the physical changes and health problems, aspects like change in the cultural and social life, also affect the life of the elderly adult, population.
Most of the health problems in the elderly population are nutrition related. Personal factors like reduced, or fixed income, loneliness and susceptible to health claims, affect old person’s dietary and nutritional status (Stanfield & Hui, 2010). The principal health problems include; nutrient deficiencies, which is largely composed by the lack of protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C. This catapults the incidence of anemia, osteoporosis and decreased resistance to infections, thus, lowering the overall health status. Further, obesity is also common due to reduced activity, and it reduces mobility, increasing risks of falling accidents. In tandem to this, respiratory and cardiovascular also deteriorate (Stanfield & Hui, 2010). In addition to this, weakened muscle tissues and diverticulosis- a wide spread problem characterized by the weakening of the intestinal wall- is also common attributed to low intake of fiber diet. Hypertension and coronary heart diseases like atherosclerosis are also rampant issues that affect the old population, and they largely amount to heart attack or stroke (Stanfield & Hui, 2010). Conversely, diabetes and cancer-related diseases have also been reported to be a considerable problem in the aged population, affecting both their lives and social stay.
According to Cavanaugh and Blanchard-Fields (2006), changes and deformation in the central nervous system and the autonomic nervous system during old age, also result to aspects like memory failure, vision impairment, listening problems, poor coordination of information and imbalance of the body. In conjunction to this, there is the development of severe disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, largely attributed to abnormal behaviors and imbalance of the body (Cavanaugh & Blanchard-Fields, 2006). Further, loss of facets like employment through retirement, self-image, physical health, mobility, spouse, home, income and other opportunities for social contacts with others, triggers a grieving process that affects the elderly. The losses strains and affects the coping abilities, which in turn disrupts the well-functioning intellectual and emotional capabilities (Barry & Farmer, 2002).
Mental distress, ascribed to their decrease in mental abilities on psychosocial functioning is yet another health problem that affects the aged population. This affects their quality of life, and their families are severely disrupted (Barry & Farmer, 2002). The common types of mental distress include; depression, characterized by slowing of cognitive functioning, decrease in memory and dementia, insomnia, a disturbance in a person’s normal sleeping pattern, and it amounts pain due to physical conditions (Barry & Farmer, 2002). In addition to this, cognitive impairment, stress reactions and decrease in social and daily living skills are also other prevailing mental distresses that affect the old population.
Concisely, the physical changes attributed to biological changes of the body cells and systems and changes in cultural and social aspects due to engraving loneliness and inability to perform daily activities are the core issues that affect the elderly population. In line with this, health associated problems, ascribed to diet problems and malnutrition, and mental distress and disorders affect the old population. Therefore, it becomes exceedingly vital to upgrade and improve the nursing care and the medical care for the aged population. Moreover, it is decidedly essential to check their diet and their feeding habits to reduce their health problems and disorders, to make their lives more comfortable.
Barry, D. P. & Farmer, S. (2002). Mental Health & Mental Illness (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Cavanaugh, C. J. & Blanchard-Fields, F. (2006). Adult Development and Aging (5th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Learning Inc.
Stanfield, P. & Hui, H. Y. (2010). Nutrition and Diet Therapy: Self-Instructional Approaches (5th Ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, LLC.