How to Deal with the Physical Difficulties of Aging
As people age, they generally find that there are many health issues that make doing so uncomfortable or disabling.
For most, the process of growing old is subtle. In the earlier years of the aging process they see a few gray hairs, find that they need glasses and realize that it takes much longer to do things than it did even a few years ago.
As time goes on, people find themselves taking more pills to protect their health or relieve minor aches and pains.
However the older they get, the worse their physical problems become and the more of them there are.
As younger people, they found themselves dealing with one issue at a time, but as seniors they quickly learned that they must cope with numerous ones that show up regularly and can make life miserable for them.
Inability to sleep well, hearing problems, knee, neck and back problems and heart disease are just a few of them, but any one of these things can lead to serious disability or even death.
At the same time that these things occur, people still are faced with all of the problems of daily living, some of which can be quite difficult to manage as well.
This is a sad scenario that must be tolerated by the majority of individuals, but those who find ways to adapt are always going to have a better quality of life than those who refuse to acknowledge and deal with their health problems.
Attitudes Make a Big Difference
People approach aging in different ways.
Some take the attitude that they are going to stay young by doing things such as exercising, eating right and having a variety of surgical procedures that make them look young.
While these may seem to be great ideas, the truth is that people who feel this way are kidding themselves and as a result can do themselves a great deal of physical and emotional harm.
For example, exercising is a good idea, but those who think they can do this activity the same way as when they were in their twenties find that they become plagued with a variety of injuries, some of which lead to serious health problems.
We hear stories on TV all the time of people in their 80's who do miraculous things. They inspire others to attempt to do similar things, but many who want to try fail to understand that those who are able to do extraordinary things represent a very small minority of the elderly, and that they
- sacrifice a great deal to be able to perform those tasks,
- are able to afford personal trainers, expensive exercise equipment and nutritionists and
- are lucky enough to enjoy better health than most people their age.
These things do not describe the average older person, and those who are smart enough to realize this are the same ones who suffer fewer injuries and deal better with their situations.
This makes the aging process much easier for them to deal with and creates safer and healthier living situations for them.
Below are two examples of physical problems most older people have and the best ways of dealing with them.
The resolutions apply to just about any situation an older person might encounter.
Many older people have problems with their hearing and either ignore them or don't know it. This may not seem to be a big problem, but hearing loss is quite common in older people. In fact, the National Council on Aging reports that more than a third of people between the ages of 65 and 74 suffer from it, and about half of those over 74 do.
Untreated hearing loss makes daily living difficult, can lead to feelings of isolation and depression and can lead to memory loss or even dementia.
Those who refuse to acknowledge the fact that they have this problem, don't want to pay the high costs of hearing aids or are too vain to accept the fact that they need them are asking for problems.
They can avoid most of them simply by facing reality and getting tested so that they can start living normally again.
The Veteran's Administration provides testing, devices, batteries, repairs and checkups at no charge for those who qualify.
For others, Costco offers numerous good quality hearing aids and additional services much more reasonably than other providers.
My husband did not qualify for VA help, so he went to Costco and purchased a great set of hearing aids along with a cleaning machine for $1639. He had to sign up for a membership first, but even with that, he paid thousands of dollars less than he would have paid had he purchased his devices elsewhere.
His devices came with a 3 year guarantee on parts, testing, cleaning and services and a 2 year guarantee for a one time replacement if he damaged his aids. He also had the option to return them after 60 days if they did not work for him.
People spend more than that on cigarettes each year, so there is no reason to avoid testing and buying if hearing loss is a problem.
Almost every aging adult suffers from orthopedic problems.
These include but are not limited to back, neck, hip and shoulder problems, any of which can become extremely painful and debilitating.
More often than not, these issues are caused by Arthritis, but can also be the result of certain diseases, falls and auto accidents.
They can come on slowly or show up suddenly. They may also appear only sporadically.
No matter how they appear or how often they do so, it's important to be proactive when dealing with them.
Contact an Orthopedic Surgeon
The first thing to do is to contact an Orthopedic Surgeon who specializes in the type of problem one has. He will have the equipment, training, experience and ability to determine the exact cause of the issue and treat it appropriately.
Many people avoid doing this because they fear the possibility of surgery or assume the problem will clear up in time. Unfortunately, the longer one waits to deal with an orthopedic issue, the worse it will become and the more difficult the surgery will be. Waiting too long to address this problem can also mean that the outcome of the surgery may not be a good one.
People with orthopedic problems can make life much easier and safer for themselves by using health aids such as high rise toilets, personal massagers, heating pads and ice packs.
Items such as these can lower pain levels, reduce stress and help people to function better on a day to day basis.
Use a Walker or Cane
I've known many older people who absolutely refuse to use walkers because they feel they make them look "old". As a result, sooner or later, they fall. When this happens, they either damage themselves further, become disabled or may even die.
The World Health Organization reports that falls are the second leading cause of accidental death worldwide, yet avoiding them can be the simple act of using a walker!
Dressing appropriately can help people to keep from falling.
Opting for clothing that is easy to put on and wear such as:
- slip on tops that have no buttons or zippers,
- pants and shorts that have elastic waist bands and wide legs and
- slip on shoes with low heels that are made of soft materials, have rubber soles good arch support and fit properly
is one of the best ways to avoid body strains and falling.
Take Care with Positions
It is always a good idea for people to find ways to position themselves that can avoid injuries to backs, necks and hips.
For example, people should always sit on a chair when putting pants so that they don't lose their balance. My brother made the mistake of not doing this, fell and broke his wrist in four places!
It's also a good idea to keep a handy so that one does not have to bend to pick up things that drop on the ground. The one I have used for years is made by Duro Med. It's inexpensive and quite durable. There are different types in a variety of price ranges, but this one is just the right size, 32 inches long, because it can sit on an end table or hang on a towel rack for easy access and yet is long enough to reach necessary places. Following my first hip surgery the hospital gave me one of these grabbers, and I have used this brand and type ever since. grabber
Anybody with orthopedic problems would do well to heed the advice provided here. It is based on my own personal experience, and the things I discuss here have helped me tremendously.
One cannot expect doctors to do everything for them. Those who do suffer more than those who are proactive when dealing with their physical problems.
Don't Be a Hero
Some older people choose to handle their physical problems on their own. As a result, they try to do things that are beyond their capabilities such as climbing on ladders or bending down to clean bathtubs.
There comes a time when the elderly need to face up to the fact that there are things they just cannot or should not do anymore because they no longer are safe.
It is when people refuse to give up some of their independence that they hurt themselves. There is no shame in asking for help from family and friends or in paying someone to do work around the house.
It may cost a few dollars, but the medical costs and pain that arise from accidents cost far more!
Those who no longer can easily do laundry, mop floors, fix their cars and do other mundane tasks would do well to move into assisted living facilities where they can enjoy their lives and not have to worry about taking care of their homes or vehicles.
Make Your Home a Safe Haven
There are many things older people can do to make staying in their homes a workable idea.
Doing such things as
- removing carpets,
- adding grab bars to tubs and showers and
- living in single level housing
are just some of the things older people can do to make their homes safer and more livable.
Adapt and Be Proactive
If you've taken the time to read this article, you can easily see that the road to having a healthier and more secure old age is to learn to adapt and be proactive when it comes to physical problems with which you are faced.
This advice applies to even the most serious of situations. If you've lived as long as I have, you already know that there can be many of them.
Aging is not easy, but you can make it more bearable if you choose to do so. Take advantage of what is available to you, make changes where needed and be realistic about your situation if you want to deal effectively with the physical problems of aging.
If you are an older person, do you see any of your issues in this article?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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© 2018 Sondra Rochelle