Diseases through the decades – here's what to look out for in your 40s, 60s, 80s and beyond

What to watch out for once you reach your 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

What to watch out for once you reach your 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

Lorene Farrugia Stephanie Harrison, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute; Azmeraw T. Amare, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute; Jyoti Khadka, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute; Maria Carolina Inacio, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute; Sarah Bray, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute, and Tiffany Gill, University of Adelaide

Many diseases develop and become more likely as we age. Here are some of the most common conditions, and how you can reduce your risk of getting them as you clock over into a new decade.

In your 40s
Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of developing arthritis, coronary heart disease, and other common and related conditions, including back pain, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and many cancers. But almost one-third of Australians in their 40s are obese and one in five already have arthritis.

From the age of 45 (or 35 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders), heart health checks are recommended to assess risk factors and initiate a plan to improve the health of your heart. This may include changing your diet, reducing your alcohol intake, increasing your physical activity, and improving your well-being.

Checks to identify your risk of type 2 diabetes are also recommended every three years from age 40 (or from age 18 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders).

If you don’t already have symptoms of arthritis or if they’re mild, this decade is your chance to reduce your risk of the disease progressing. Focus on the manageable factors, like shedding excess weight, but also on improving muscle strength. This may also help to prevent or delay sarcopenia, which is the decline of skeletal muscle tissue with ageing, and back pain.

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight will set you up for decades of better health. Sue Zeng

Most people will begin to experience age-related vision decline in their 40s, with difficulty seeing up close and trouble adjusting to lighting and glare. A baseline eye check is recommended at age 40.

In your 50s
In your 50s, major eye diseases become more common. Among Australians aged 55 and above, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetes-related eye diseases and glaucoma account for more than 80 per cent of vision loss.

A series of health screenings are recommended when people turn 50. These preventive measures can help with the early detection of serious conditions and optimising your treatment choices and prognosis. Comprehensive eye assessments are recommended every one to two years to ensure warning signs are detected and vision can be saved.

National cancer screening programs for Australians aged 50 to 74, are available every two years for bowel and breast cancer.

To screen for bowel cancer, older Australians are sent a test in the post they can do at home. If the test is positive, the person is then usually sent for a colonoscopy, a procedure in which a camera and light look for abnormalities of the bowel.

In 2016, eight per cent of people screened had a positive test result. Of those who underwent a colonoscopy, 1 in 26 were diagnosed with confirmed or suspected bowel cancer and one in nine were diagnosed with adenomas. These are potential precursors to bowel cancer which can be removed to reduce your future risk.

To check for breast cancer, women are encouraged to participate in the national mammogram screening program. More than half (59 per cent) of all breast cancers detected through the program are small (less than or equal to 15mm) and are easier to treat (and have better survival rates) than more advanced cancers.

In your 60s
Coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a disease of the lungs that makes breathing difficult), and lung cancer carry the biggest disease burden for people in their 60s.

If you’re a smoker, quitting is the best way to improve both your lung and heart health. Using evidence-based methods to quit with advice from a health professional or support service will greatly improve your chances of success.

Quitting smoking is the best way to improve your health. Ian Schneider

The build-up of plaques in artery walls by fats, cholesterol and other substances (atherosclerosis) can happen from a younger age. But the hardening of these plaques and narrowing of arteries, which greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, is most likely to occur from age 65 and above.

Exercise protects against atherosclerosis and research consistently shows any physical activity is better than nothing when it comes to heart health. If you’re not currently active, gradually build up to the recommended 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most, preferably all, days.

Other potentially modifiable risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, a high-fat diet, alcohol consumption, and smoking.

Your 60s is also a common decade for surgeries, including joint replacements and cataract surgery. Joint replacements are typically very successful, but are not an appropriate solution for everyone and are not without risks. After a joint replacement, you’ll benefit from physiotherapy, exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight.

The treatment for cataracts is to surgically remove the cloudy lens. Cataract surgery is the most common elective surgery worldwide, with very low complication rates, and provides immediate restoration of lost vision.

In your 70s
Many of the conditions mentioned above are still common in this decade. It’s also a good time to consider your risk of falls. Four in ten people in their 70s will have a fall and it can lead to a cascade of fractures, hospitalisations, disability and injury.

Osteoporosis is one cause of falls. It occurs most commonly in post-menopausal women but almost one-quarter of people with osteoporosis are men. Osteoporosis is often known as a silent disease because there are usually no symptoms until a fracture occurs. Exercise and diet, including calcium and vitamin D, are important for bone health.

Exercise and diet can improve bone health. Geneva, Switzerland

Older people are also vulnerable to mental health conditions because of a combination of reduced cognitive function, limitations in physical health, social isolation, loneliness, reduced independence, frailty, reduced mobility, disability, and living conditions.

In your 80s and beyond
Dementia is the second most common chronic condition for Australians in their 80s, after coronary heart disease – and it’s the most common for people aged 95 and above.

Many people think dementia is a normal part of the ageing process, but around one-third of cases of dementia could be prevented by reducing risk factors such as high blood pressure and obesity at mid-life.

Early diagnosis is important to effectively plan and initiate appropriate treatment options which help people live well with dementia. But dementia remains underdiagnosed.

Around 70 per cent of Australians aged 85 and above have five or more chronic diseases and take multiple medications to manage these conditions. Effective medication management is critical for people living with multiple conditions because medications for one condition may exacerbate the symptoms of a different coexisting condition.The Conversation

Stephanie Harrison, Research fellow, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute; Azmeraw T. Amare, Postdoc researcher, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute; Jyoti Khadka, Research Fellow, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute; Maria Carolina Inacio, Director, Registry of Older South Australians, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute; Sarah Bray, Registry of Older South Australians (ROSA) - Project Manager & Consumer Engagement Officer, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute, and Tiffany Gill, Senior Research Fellow, University of Adelaide

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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    COMMENTS

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    patti
    13th Feb 2019
    12:03pm
    Now in mid 70s, have been healthy and active till now. But everything has his me at once - heart failure, needing knee replacement and feet repair, developed hyperthyroidism, and irregular heartbeat. Having been so healthy before, finding it all really hard to cope with! I feel like an old car which needs trading in.........
    KB
    13th Feb 2019
    12:44pm
    Patti I fee; fort you. I am I in in my fifties and everything has hit at once. Due to have another hip replacement an enlarged heart and thyroid issues too. Thyroid can be connected to irregular heartbeat. Need to stay positive Diet seems to play role in our bodies functioning well.
    KB
    13th Feb 2019
    12:45pm
    Patti I fee; fort you. I am I in in my fifties and everything has hit at once. Due to have another hip replacement an enlarged heart and thyroid issues too. Thyroid can be connected to irregular heartbeat. Need to stay positive Diet seems to play role in our bodies functioning well.
    KB
    13th Feb 2019
    12:46pm
    Patti I fee; fort you. I am I in in my fifties and everything has hit at once. Due to have another hip replacement an enlarged heart and thyroid issues too. Thyroid can be connected to irregular heartbeat. Need to stay positive Diet seems to play role in our bodies functioning well. Id this is posted multiple times I apologize due to post reply not working
    Dancer
    13th Feb 2019
    4:05pm
    Yep, I know what you mean Patti. Having been active (walking, dancing, gym regularly) and enjoyed a good healthy diet, I now am recovering from a small knee fracture and find I am borderline with osteoporosis - so all that "weight bearing exercise" didn't prevent that! Very little exercise that I can do at present whilst recovering, mostly hydro-therapy which is good, but I'd really like to get back to regular walking and gym - but seems like it will be a while yet. So caring for one's health doesn't always guarantee no problems later in life - although having said that I still advocate self-care and exercise because I may have been worse off without it!
    Dancer
    13th Feb 2019
    4:05pm
    Yep, I know what you mean Patti. Having been active (walking, dancing, gym regularly) and enjoyed a good healthy diet, I now am recovering from a small knee fracture and find I am borderline with osteoporosis - so all that "weight bearing exercise" didn't prevent that! Very little exercise that I can do at present whilst recovering, mostly hydro-therapy which is good, but I'd really like to get back to regular walking and gym - but seems like it will be a while yet. So caring for one's health doesn't always guarantee no problems later in life - although having said that I still advocate self-care and exercise because I may have been worse off without it!
    Dancer
    13th Feb 2019
    4:06pm
    Yep, I know what you mean Patti. Having been active (walking, dancing, gym regularly) and enjoyed a good healthy diet, I now am recovering from a small knee fracture and find I am borderline with osteoporosis - so all that "weight bearing exercise" didn't prevent that! Very little exercise that I can do at present whilst recovering, mostly hydro-therapy which is good, but I'd really like to get back to regular walking and gym - but seems like it will be a while yet. So caring for one's health doesn't always guarantee no problems later in life - although having said that I still advocate self-care and exercise because I may have been worse off without it!
    Dancer
    13th Feb 2019
    4:06pm
    Yep, I know what you mean Patti. Having been active (walking, dancing, gym regularly) and enjoyed a good healthy diet, I now am recovering from a small knee fracture and find I am borderline with osteoporosis - so all that "weight bearing exercise" didn't prevent that! Very little exercise that I can do at present whilst recovering, mostly hydro-therapy which is good, but I'd really like to get back to regular walking and gym - but seems like it will be a while yet. So caring for one's health doesn't always guarantee no problems later in life - although having said that I still advocate self-care and exercise because I may have been worse off without it!
    Dancer
    13th Feb 2019
    4:10pm
    Yep, I know what you mean Patti. Having been active (walking, dancing, gym regularly) and enjoyed a good healthy diet, I now am recovering from a small knee fracture and find I am borderline with osteoporosis - so all that "weight bearing exercise" didn't prevent that! Very little exercise that I can do at present whilst recovering, mostly hydro-therapy which is good, but I'd really like to get back to regular walking and gym - but seems like it will be a while yet. So caring for one's health doesn't always guarantee no problems later in life - although having said that I still advocate self-care and exercise because I may have been worse off without it!
    Charlie
    17th Feb 2019
    11:56am
    That post comment jamming again
    musicveg
    17th Feb 2019
    2:29pm
    Arthritis is often caused by drinking milk, give up the cows milk and see if you feel better. Thyroid problems are caused by diet. And do not take calcium tablets they will make osteo problems worse not better, try magnesium powder instead. I recommend a book I am currently reading "Take control of your health and escape the sickness industry" by Elaine Hollingsworth. Also books by Anthony William or check out his website, search medical medium.
    AutumnOz
    13th Feb 2019
    4:35pm
    How about a good news story for a change.
    Having lost three good friends to disease in the last three years I really do not want to be reminded I am either going to die soon or come down with some unmentionable horror disease.
    I'm finding YLC's almost daily story of yet another health problem depressing.
    Triss
    13th Feb 2019
    6:18pm
    I agree with you, AutumnOz. Let’s hear about the many useful and happy people who are rocking into their 90s full of beans and not thinking about what design they want for their coffins.
    AutumnOz
    13th Feb 2019
    6:56pm
    Triss, there are plenty of good news stories around which we seldom hear about. In my opinion news doesn't have to be bad it seems to be just that journalists seem to be stuck in bad news mode.
    musicveg
    17th Feb 2019
    2:30pm
    Check out the website Good News network, full of happy stories to counteract all the bad we hear of lately.
    Cat
    14th Feb 2019
    12:35am
    "Exercise and diet, including calcium and vitamin D, are important for bone health". - And so is HRT, but there seems to be a total blackout on mentioning it anywhere. Your body can't maintain bone density without estrogen no matter how much calcium and vitamin D you consume.
    Suzley
    14th Feb 2019
    5:26pm
    Cat. Well said. I have been on oral HRT for 25 years and have no intention of stopping. Each prescription renewal time, my doctor reads me the spiel relating to the hazards, etc, but I think he is legally(?) obliged to do that. Did stop for a few months, but then had lunch with two friends who have osteoporosis - fractured arms, legs, ribs, etc. Got back on HRT quick-smart. Not encouraging people to jump on the HRT bandwagon, just my personal story/opinion.
    musicveg
    17th Feb 2019
    2:36pm
    From what I have been reading HRT is dangerous and can cause more problems. It is not estrogen you need rather progesterone. I just read a whole chapter on this in a book by Elaine Hollingsworth "Take care of your health and escape the sickness industry" it is a thorough well researched book with many statements backed by scientific research that is often ignored by the medical professions. Oestrogen dominance will cause many other health problems. Also calcium tablets are dangerous, do not take them, they will leach your body of other important minerals and will cause more osteo problems.
    Blossom
    14th Feb 2019
    10:43pm
    Another issue worth mentioning is iron levels. Some dairy foods contain phosphorous whith depletes iron from our body. So does carobonated drinks. These items can also cause kidney and/or liver damage. I recently collapsed from iron deficiency and was given this information by medics at a large hospital. I had 3 bags of whole blood and 2 iron infusions
    musicveg
    17th Feb 2019
    2:37pm
    Iron can be found in many wholefoods but be wary of supplements they can cause more problems, if you do not absorb iron, you have another issue to consider. Have a read of Anthony Williams book "Liver Rescue" or Elaine Hollingsworth book.


    Tags: disease, health, decade, age,

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