Life expectancy is on the rise in India, so is the proportion of older adults. In 2035, it will be about 20% of the whole population and is estimated to be 50% by 2050. Healthy aging means also inheriting the right genes. But we can’t choose our family, so how do we turn the odds in our favor. How do we know the signs of normal aging and how to adapt?
As we age, there is a hormonal imbalance that leads to fat accumulation in the tummies and the metabolic rate slows down. It is normal to gain weight despite eating less, especially inwomen of post-menopausal age. As children, we have limitless energy, but with advancing age, we may feel tired. Some medications and some conditions like thyroid and diabetes (if you have them) could be the culprit. If your tiredness is new and you are not enjoying the social activities you enjoyed once, stress, anxiety or depression could be the reason.
About half of the older adults have osteoarthritis. But only one in five have a disabling disease. Symptoms include pain at rest, swollen red joints and reduced ability to move the joints. And the last one is the very senior problem of forgetting. You go into a room and forget why you went in and remember after a few minutes – this is perfectly normal with age and in a newer environment. If it occurs more often, you need to consult a doctor.
Falls are also a big menace in old age. One in three older adults experience falls and about half of them have a fear of falls. There’s no single risk factor. There are patient factors like diabetes, arthritis, inappropriate footwear, abnormal heart rhythms, abnormal electrolyte functions, giddiness, poor vision and hearing, etc. These factors alone or colluded can induce a fall. There are also some environmental factors such as wet floors at home, clutters and wires, poor lighting at home, etc. which can lead to tripping and a fall. Installing grab bars and handrails at hallways and toilets, avoiding books, papers and toys on the floor and making the floor non-slippery will prevent a fall. While moving, using a tripod cane, if necessary, will bring more stability. Avoid using multifocal lenses outdoors to decrease fall risk.
Tips for a Long Healthy Life
Don’t smoke and cut down on alcohol.
Watch your weight. Adjust your meal portion and take a brisk walk of 20-30 minutes every day.
Simple pain killers, weight loss and active life will keep your arthritis away.
Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole-grain foods, lentils and healthy fats.
Have your blood pressure, cholesterol, thyroid, pulse rhythm and sugar levels checked regularly and take the treatment as advised by the doctor.