Health problems that older adults may experience include injuries. chronic disabling disease such as hypertension and arthritis, drug
abuse and misuse, alcoholism, dementia, and mistreatment. Leadiing causes of death in people ages 65 and over are heart disease, cancer, cerebrovascular disease (stroke), lower respiratory disease, pneumonia/influenza, and diabetes mellitus (FIFAS, 2012).
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Types Of Health Problems
There are so many types of health problems, which will be discussed below: they include ;
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Injuries prevention is a major concern for older people cause of morbidity and mortality among older adults (Pale ahead, pains cause of morbidi and mortality among older adults (Edelman &
Mandle; 2010,). Because vision is limited, reflexes are slowed. and bones are brittle, caution is required in climbing stairs, driving a car and even walking. Driving. particularly night driving, requires caution because accommodation of the eye to light is impaired and peripheral vision is diminished. Older people need to learn to tum
the head before changing lanes and should not rely on side vision, for example, when crossing a street. Driving in fog or other hazardous
conditions should be avoided. Fires are a hazard for the older adult with a failing memory.
Older adults may forget that the iron or stove is left on or may not exlinguish a cigarette completely. Because of reduced sensitivity to pain and heat, care must be taken to prevent burns when the person bathes or uses heating devices. Many older adults suffer and die each year from hypothermia. Hypothermia is a body temperature below normal. A lowered metabolism and loss of normal insulation from thinning
subcutaneous tissue decrease the older clients ability to retain heat. The older adult who spends time outdoors in cold weather or who does not turn on the heat in the home is at significant risk
for hypothermia. Nurses can help older adults make the home environment safe by identifying and correcting specific hazards; for example, installing handrails on staircases. The nurse teaches the importance of taking only prescribed medications and contacting a health professional at the first indication of intolerance to them.
Individuals with AD or other types of dementia experience increasing safety needs as their condition deteriorates. Judgment becomes impaired as the disease progresses, and some environmental modification is needed to help the older adult remain sate. Some of these are keeping poisons and medications out of reach
preferably locked up), taking knobs off kitchen stoves to prevent burns and fires, and putting special locks on doors for individuals Who tend to wander. Attention should be given to these potential Problems whether the client lives at home or is in a health facility. tailed in for injury prevention for the older adult are tailed
Chronic Disabling Illness
Many older adults function well within the community without impairments; others are afflicted with one or more chronic illnesses that may seriously impair their functioning. Examples of these are arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, obstructive lung disease, hearing and visual alterations, and cognitive dysfunctions. In addition, acute illnesses such as pneumonia and fractures and trauma from falls, motor vehicle crashes, or other incidents may create chronic health problems. Chronic illness brings many changes to the dient and the family members. The client, for example, may need increasing help with the ADLs of ambulation, feeding, hygiene, and so on; health care expenses often escalate and may become an economic concern; family roles may need to be altered; and family members may need to change their lifestyle to meet caregiving needs.
Drug Abuse and Misuse
Older adults take an average of 31.1 prescriptions per year (Mauk.2014,). Added to this, older adults may purchase over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to remedy common discomforts related to aging, such as constipation, sleep disturbance, and joint pain. During the past few years, the use of vitamins, food supplements, and herbal remedies has increased. These agents fall under the category of OTC drugs and are often not reported by clients as part of their medicine regimen. An accurate assessment should include a listing of all these agents. Many of these agents have not had adequate testing for effectiveness, side effects, or interactions with other
medications. The complexities involved in the self-administration of medication may lead to a variety of misuse situations, including taking too
much or too little medication, combining alcohol and medication,combining prescribed medications with OTC drugs causing increased risk for drug interactions and adverse events, taking medications at the wrong time, or taking someone else’s medication. Other potential misuse situations occur when more than one primary care provider prescribes medications and the client fails to tell each primary care provider what has been previously prescribed.
Additionally, the pharmacodynamics of drugs are altered in older adults. The variations in absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of drugs are related to physiological changes associated with aging. These variations are discussed in Most older adults living independently in the community take
their medications with no supervision. Therefore, education about medications is important for safe medication-taking behaviors. The following strategies, taught by the nurse, can promote safe medication use by the older adult:
- Ask your pharmacist for east to open containers if you have difficulty opening for medications
There are two types of older alcoholics: those who began drinking alcohol in their youth and those who began excessive alcohol use later in life to help them cope with the changes and problems of their older years. Approximately one third of older alcoholics are late-onset drinkers (after age 60) and that number includes a higher number of women Chronic drinking has major effects on all body systems, causes progressive liver and kidney damage, damages the stomach and related organs, and slows mental response, frequently leading to injuries and death. Alcohol interacts with various drugs, altering the normal effect of the medication on the body. Some medications have an increased effect when taken with alcohol (e.g, anticoagulants and narcotics), whereas the action of other medications (e.g., antibiotics) is inhibited. For the older adult who has a chronic illness and takes many medications, the combination of drugs and alcohol can lead to serious drug overdose. Clients with alcoholism should not be stereotyped or prejudged by the nurse. Rather, they should be accepted, listened to, and offered help. The nurse should assess the number and type of alcoholic bev-erages consumed as well as the pattern and frequency of consumption. It is important for the nurse to discuss any medications the client is taking and review the side effects and interaction effects of alcohol
and medication. The role of the nurse is to act as a client advocate and facilitate the treatment of the drinking problem in addition to the prevention of possible complications.