The macula in the eye renders a clear central vision.  Macular Degeneration is a serious medical condition that usually affects the elderly. It results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field(the macula) because of the damage to the retina and causes the breakdown of the macula located in the retina. It affects around 30-50 million people globally. Scientific evidence shows that genes may play a role in the development of nearly three out of four cases of this devastating macular degenerationeye disease. Occurring after the age of 50, it leads to a progressive loss of central vision, which is needed for activities like reading, recognizing faces and driving.  It occurs in either dry or wet forms and is often considered an incurable eye disease. Although enough peripheral vision remains to allow other activities of daily life, it never causes complete blindness.  It can rob the individual of all but the outermost peripheral vision, leaving only dim images or holes at the center of vision. The injury to the macula in the center of the retina can impair the ability to see straight ahead and clearly.

It comes in two forms, i.e. in the dry (non-exudative) form, cellular debris called drusen accumulates between the retina and the choroid, causing atrophy and scarring to the retina. The cells of the macula tend to break down in the dry AMD that in turn produces blurred vision and blank spots in the eye’s central vision. In the wet (exudative) form, which is more severe, blood vessels grow up from the choroid behind the retina which can leak exudate and fluid and also cause hemorrhaging. The delicate new blood vessels begin to grow beneath the retina. These blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the macula and can cause scarring. It can be treated with laser coagulation, and more commonly with medication that stops and sometimes reverses the growth of blood vessels.Macular degeration-image

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Cancer is a disease associated with aging. Its risk increases with age and the number of older adults seeking its treatment has skyrocketed. Apparently, more than a third (around 36%) of cancers are diagnosed in the people aged 75 and over. Although cancer certainly can and does strike young people too, it is, by and large, a disease of aging and it happens to be one of the leading causes of deaths in Americans between 60 and 79 years old. Coping with cancer at any age is difficult enough, but it is really overwhelming and daunting at an advanced age. Along with more years come more health problems.  Older people are more sensitive to medication and more susceptible to medication reactions.They often have complicating co-morbidities and more financial hardship with fewer family and friends for support at the same time.

According to the 2010 report, the proportions of all cancers among elderly men and women were 61% and 56% respectively.  All cancers have grown almost around seven-fold more frequently among elderly men (2158 per 100,000 person-years) and around four-fold more among elderly women (1192 per 100,000 person-years). As the population ages, many diseases that predominantly affect older individuals will become more prevalent. Moreover many conditions that affect the elderly will occur in combination, thereby complicating care for any specific condition.  cancer in the elderlyAdvancing age is a high risk factor for cancer, with persons over 65 accounting for 60% of newly diagnosed malignancies and 70% of all cancer deaths. The International Agency for Research on Cancer propounded the following numbers for various cancers in the elderly population.

Risk Factors for Cancer in Elderly – Most cancers are related to environmental, lifestyle or behavioral exposures. Many molecular and cellular changes are involved in the development of cancer, so it is very likely that as a person grows older these changes get accumulated and eventually manifest themselves as cancer.  The elderly and the senior population do not realize of them being affected by cancer as there are no specific symptoms of cancer.  They frequently have serious health issues viz. high blood pressure, diabetes, depression along with cancer and these conditions can influence their cancer treatment. Although it is impossible to prove what caused a cancer in any particular individual, the following risk factors can still be regarded as the potential causes of cancers.

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The middle-class Americans have plenty to worry about, viz. the inflation, the rise in healthcare costs, growing old with too little savings, postponing their retirement and not having enough resources and options in case of a crisis after they retire. The rapid and total disappearance of defined-benefit pensions has left many Americans unprepared for retirement. As many as one-third of us have no savings at all, the median household retirement savings for 2013 was a meager $14,500.00. The reason it’s so called is – because an average 65-year old in the US can expect to live as many as 20 years post retirement and this amount is not even enough to replace one year’s worth of expenses for many older adults. Bankrate.com cited that nearly half of Americans place virtually no money aside for the future and only fewer than one in four save between 10-15% of their incomes.

The National Institute on Retirement Security also reiterates the dangerously low levels of savings where the deficit is between $6.8 to $14.0 trillion.  It uses the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances to analyze the retirement plan participation and has revealed that around 45 percent, or 38 million working-age households do not have the retirement savings.  Medicare part-b-spendingA new Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis also finds that among households with members aged 55 or older, nearly 29 percent have neither retirement savings nor a traditional pension plan.  It has been announced that there will be no Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase next year, for only the third time in 40 years, that implies that millions of seniors who rely on their Social Security to get by will once again find their expenses outpacing their Social Security benefit. 

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Today Alzheimer’s disease is considered to be one of the most common causes of dementia and is estimated to be impacting around 5.3 million Americans. It is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that destroys brain nerve cells and disrupts the memory and thinking skills of the patient.  Although scientists still do not know what causes it, they believe that a combination of various genetic and environmental factors lead to Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimers disease - type of DementiaThe changes and deterioration in certain areas of the brain, with Alzheimer’s, affect thinking, communication, and behavior. Less than 5 percent of the time, the disease is caused by specific genetic changes that virtually guarantee a person will develop the disease. Some of the deterioration can be due to the loss of chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) in the brain called acetylcholine.

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Knee problems can occur at any age. Seniors in particular, are vulnerable to the knee problems, partly due to the associated physiological changes of aging, and often because they tend to develop some problems with mobility as time goes by.  In fact, knee pain is one of the most common problems affecting millions of people living in the US as well as across the world.  Total Knee Replacement stepsMuscles provide the force and strength to move the body. But as a person ages, there are several changes in the muscles, joints, and bones that affect the posture and walk, and lead to weakness and slowed movement. Technically, the knee replacements are surgical substitutions of a knee joint,  with an artificial joint, or an implant. More and more elderly patients are undergoing knee replacement surgeries so that they can remain independent and active in their later years.

However, the increasing rate of obesity can lead to additional surgeries and more costs in the long run.  It  is more difficult with obese patients, because they have a higher risk of infection, blood clots and wound complications. This number is constantly on the rise.  In 2003 there were 450,000 knee replacement surgeries that jumped up to 700,000 by 2010 and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons estimate that by 2030, the number will go up to nearly 3.5 million. Alternatively, obesity in the older adults also causes serious medical complications and impairs their quality of lives. It can exacerbate the age-related decline in physical function and lead to frailty.

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Death with Dignity becomes a fundamental right in the state of California!

The second week of September 2015 will be hailed in the history of California with a landmark victory for supporters of assisted suicide, when the State Legislature gave its final approval to a bill that would allow the doctors to help terminally ill people end their lives. The similar right-to-die bill had earlier failed to […]

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Can the elderly be prone to the dis-inhibited behaviors?

Elderly adults who live in the nursing homes often lash out at each other and have to deal with aggressive or inappropriate behavior from fellow residents. Most of these facilities house elderly, who are uninhibited, typically have dementia, share close quarters with strangers, suffer pain or lose their ability to communicate. Dementia is  also marked […]

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Socialization – a Key to Healthy Aging!

Although seniors and the elderly are the largest growing population in the US, they are also one of the most isolated lot. They may be aware of their medical issues like blood pressure, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, but are hardly concerned about the social issues of their lives and rarely do they give any significance to socialization that is probably […]

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The Epidemiolody of a Heart Failure in the Elderly

Heart failure develops over time when the pumping capacity of heart diminishes and it is not able to supply enough blood and oxygen to support other organs in the body. It is usually called a geriatric syndrome as most of the heart failure patients are the older adults. It is also a serious cardiac syndrome that can […]

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Dialysis – When do the Octogenarians need it?

Kidneys are our body’s tireless waste removers. Healthy human kidneys purify the body by removing waste, toxins and excess fluid from the blood. They aid in controlling the blood pressure, strengthening the bones, maintaining the electrolysis balance, producing red blood cells in the body and keeping body chemicals in balance. A properly functioning kidney helps […]

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Why are Seniors prone to Vitamin D Deficiency?

Human beings require calcium for signal and muscle contradiction and to build and maintain skeletons. Aging, even in the healthy elderly, reduces muscle mass and muscle strength leading to a functional impairment. It is important in a number of physiologic processes, including calcium absorption, innate and adaptive immunity and homeostasis of a number of organs. The […]

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