As our population in Singapore ages, it is integral to know the different conditions which may affect our health and well-being later in life. Current estimates indicate that by 2030, roughly one-fourth of Singapore’s population will be aged 65 and older. Therefore, understanding the common health issues that come with advancing age can be an important first step in seeking proper care for ourselves and our senior relatives.
With this in mind, we have outlined some of the common health problems that typically present in later life as well as considerations for how to recognise them early. Knowing what to look out for is key in providing the best care possible.
For starters, arthritis is a condition that affects the joints and can be debilitating for those who suffer from it. There are two main types—osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear and tear on the joints, and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s own immune system attacks the joint tissue. Symptoms associated with arthritis include joint pain, stiffness and swelling, and limited ability to move these joints. That being said, with proper management of arthritis, such as physical therapy and medication prescribed by your physician, it can be possible to reduce the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
2. Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease that affects memory, thinking, and behaviour. It is the most common cause of dementia in older adults. Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease may include memory loss, confusion, difficulty with everyday tasks, and changes in mood and behaviour. There is, however, currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are medications that can help slow the progression of the disease.
Consider consulting a healthcare professional if you notice a pattern of memory loss or confusion in yourself or a loved one that cannot be explained by other causes.
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which an individual’s blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels become elevated beyond what is considered a healthy level. Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes in Singapore, is a chronic health condition caused by insulin resistance and impaired glucose metabolism.
While anyone is at risk for developing diabetes, certain individuals may be more susceptible due to their lifestyle and genetic factors. For example, you may be more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes if you are overweight, over the age of 40, physically inactive or lead a sedentary lifestyle, and have a family history of diabetes. Signs and symptoms may include increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and blurred vision.
With age, falling can become an increasing concern for you or your loved ones due to changes in vision, strength, balance, and flexibility. Falls can not only be dangerous but also limit independence and cause fear of further injury.
Fortunately, there are several steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of falling. For example, installing grab bars in the bathroom, securing rugs with double-sided tape, or removing them completely, and providing adequate lighting throughout the home can all help protect you or your loved ones from slips and falls. Additionally, you can check for any safety hazards in the home such as uneven surfaces or clutter that could cause a fall.
Moreover, it is essential for older adults to stay active and exercise regularly to maintain balance and coordination. By taking these measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of suffering falls.
5. High blood pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is caused by an elevated amount of force on the vessel walls due to the heart pumping harder than normal or the vessels becoming narrower. If left untreated, it may increase the risk of stroke or coronary artery disease.
To combat this, regular exercise and eating a balanced diet rich in heart-healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will be essential to help keep your blood pressure in check. Limiting the amount of salt you consume each day is also a good idea. Regular checkups with your doctor are especially important in order to ensure you are on the right path towards healthier ageing.
Taking an active role in your health is paramount when it comes to staying healthy as you age. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is vital to seek treatment from a healthcare professional. Medical insurance will be another important resource you will need in order to help cover the costs of treatments and medication in Singapore.
It is worth thinking ahead and considering your current coverage options to make sure that you remain adequately protected from any health issues you may encounter. This could include doing some research into the latest policies in Singapore and consulting an insurance broker if more personalised advice is needed. Reviewing your insurance coverage may not be something you think about on a daily basis, but it can make all the difference when it comes to managing your medical expenses as you get older.
For more information, simply reach out to Expat Insurance for your health insurance needs today.
To learn more, you can also check out our guide on important health screenings for the elderly in Singapore.