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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Top 10 Causes Of Death In Old Age (65+)

Aging is a normal process of change in every individual which begin from birth and continues throughout life. There is hardly a household with no old woman or man. Understanding changes in old age will help in caring for aged people around us.

In this article, we shall look into changes in body systems in aged people and top 10 causes of death in old age.

causes of death in old age

What is aging?

In the simplest of term, aging is what happens to our body over time and the impacts of our day-to-day activities. The changes in body occur on levels such as;

Cellular changes: Over time, cells in the body may become unable to replace themselves and accumulate in the body.

Hormonal changes: In old age, there is decline in the activities of the hormones in the body.

Metabolic changes: Metabolic reaction goes down as we age.

Types of aging

Aging can be intrinsic (from within the body) and extrinsic (environmental/external impacts).
Intrinsic aging: Refers to changes in the body caused by the normal aging process that are genetically programmed and universal. Some of the changes are what I mentioned above.
Extrinsic aging: Refers to form of aging which results from influences outside the person. Such as air pollution, excessive exposure to sunlight, indiscriminate use of topical medication/creams etc.

Effects of aging on major body systems

How is aging process able to alter how our body systems function?

1). Cardiovascular System

This system comprises of heart, blood and blood vessels. Aging reduces the efficiency of the heart and decrease compliance of the heart muscles. Over time, calcium and fat deposits accumulate in the arterial walls making the arterial pores narrower thereby giving the heart more force to pump blood through (which lead to increase in blood pressure).

How to help
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat low-salt diet
  • Check blood pressure regularly
  • Weight control

2). Respiratory system

The organs here are; the lungs, pharynx, tracheal, nostrils and other lower respiratory organs.
As aging comes in, there may be decrease in respiratory efficiency, weakening of the muscles of the chest wall, decrease in lung mass and also decrease cough efficiency.

What to do
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid smoking
  • Take adequate fluid
  • Yearly vaccine (influenza and pneumonia vaccines at 65 years of age.

3). The skin (Integumentary system)

The function of the skin includes; protection, temperature regulation, sensation and excretion of waste. With aging, there is changes in the thickness of the skin layers. Reduction in subcutaneous fat and decrease in the number of capillaries in the skin which bring about decrease in blood supply to the skin.

How to promote healthy skin
  • Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Using skin protection
  • Keep yourself adequately hydrated

4). Reproductive system

Changes in female reproductive system include; thinning of the vaginal wall, shortening of the vaginal and loss of elasticity, decrease vaginal secretion, atrophy of the uterus and decrease in the tone of muscles in the pubic area.

In men, the changes take time. Findings revealed that at about 50 years of age, production of testosterone begin to decrease. There may be , decrease libido, and erectile dysfunction may set in.
In both sex, it may take longer time to become aroused, and longer to complete intercourse.

causes of death in old age

5). Kidney (Urinary system)

Although the kidney continue to function adequately in older people but as aging sets in, there is decrease in kidney mass as a result of loss of nephrons.
There is also changes in urinary tracts which may result in increase susceptibility to urinary tract infections.

In male, there usually is prostate enlargement and in female, the perineal muscles may become relaxed which may result in urinary incontinence.

What to do
  • Reduce fluid intake in the evening
  • Do not wait too long before urinating
  • For females, engage in pelvic floor exercise

6). Gastrointestinal system

The changes that occur include; decrease sense of smell, taste and thirst, decrease salivation, difficulty swallowing

What to do
  • Massage your gum daily
  • Receive regular dental care
  • Sit up while eating
  • Avoid heavy activities after meal
  • Eat high fibre diets
  • Reduce laxative use
  • Drink enough of water

7). Musculoskeletal system

Musculoskeletal system helps in ADLs (Activities of Daily living). Age-related changes that affect musculoskeletal system include; decrease bone density, loss of muscle mass and deterioration in the function and efficiency of the joints.
Use it or lose is applicable to the skeletal system.

What to do
  • Regular exercise
  • High calcium diet
  • Limit phosphorus intake

8). Nervous system

The structure and function of the nervous system change with advanced age. There may also be reduction in cerebral blood flow. There may be loss of nerve cells which contribute to loss of brain mass. During aging, the synthesis and metabolism of neurotransmitters are also reduced.

How aging effects sense organs

Vision: There is diminished ability to focus on close objects, inability to glare, difficulty adjusting to changes of light intensity and decrease ability to distinguish colors.
Hearing: There is decrease ability to hear high-frequency sounds
Taste and smell: There is decrease ability to taste and smell.

causes of death in old age

Top 10 causes of death in old age

Below are the top causes of death in adult 65 years of age and above according to National Center for Health Statistics, Health, United state.
  1. Heart diseases
  2. Malignant neoplasm
  3. Cerebrovascular diseases
  4. Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases
  5. Alzheimer's disease
  6. Diabetes mellitus
  7. Pneumonia and influenza
  8. Kidney diseases
  9. Accidents
  10. Septicemia
Now that you know the top 10 causes of death in adult 65 years of age and above, do well by educating your aged loved ones at homes.

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