Coming of Age: Common Conditions of Aging


As the numbers on the scale increase, so does the risk of chronic problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Often, people just aren’t as active or mobile as they once were. Caregiving can be more challenging if the person is overweight, especially for transferring. You and your loved one should talk with your doctor about the safest ways to stay active, eat right and avoid extra weight, but always discuss it with love and respect. 

Gum Disease

Healthy teeth and gums are important for smiling, eating and overall health. With age, a person’s mouth tends to become drier and cavities are more difficult to prevent. Some medications dry the mouth and foster bacteria overgrowth. Studies suggest that oral bacteria and gum disease play a role in diseases such as diabetes. Regular dental checkups and good oral health should be a priority. If your loved one has dentures, make sure they are cleaned daily and soaked overnight.

Flu and Pneumonia

The smart choice is to get vaccinated against both. Anyone over 65 is at risk of complications from the flu. Pneumococcal pneumonia is a potentially fatal flu-related complication. You can get the pneumococcal vaccine your doctor recommends when you get the flu vaccine. Medicare typically pays for these vaccines.


Diabetes can be identified and addressed early with simple tests for blood sugar levels. The sooner you know if your loved one has it or is at risk, the sooner diet and lifestyle changes can be implemented to improve long-term health. 


If your loved one had chickenpox as a kid, the virus can re-emerge as shingles in adulthood. One of three people over 60 will get shingles, and 50 percent of all Americans will experience it before they’re 80. It starts with severe pain or tingling and develops into an itchy rash and possibly blisters. There’s a vaccine available, so talk to the doctor. See if you can get the vaccine, too.

Memory Loss/Pulling Away

Many people think that memory loss is inevitable with aging and nothing can be done about it. That’s not necessarily the case. Aging brains can have difficulties with recent memories and multitasking, and it can just take longer to recall information. Other factors like medication or hearing loss can add to the problem. Reducing stress, eating healthy and staying mentally stimulated can help.

Oftentimes, older people can disengage from the world around them, withdrawing from family, friends or activities they once loved to do. This can be caused by a variety of different factors, and you as the family caregiver should do all you can to keep your loved one connected and engaged. Some great activities including playing BINGO or card games, and looking at old photos of family and friends and keeping those memories fresh.

Other brain-boosting strategies:

  • Exercise your brain — Do crossword and word puzzles, learn a new language, play card games
  • Socialize — Getting out and about wards off depression and anxiety, which both contribute to memory loss


Osteoporosis, or low bone mass, can put your loved one at risk of a fracture.

  • Ensure an adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D with a healthy diet of dairy products, green vegetables, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, and drinks fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Ask your doctor about supplements
  • Get as much weight-bearing exercise such as walking and weightlifting as possible
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Consult your doctor about medication to build bone strength

 Secrets No One Told You About Family Caregiving