The University of Rochester Medical Center, a well-known and distinguished medical provider, periodically provides information concerning developments in the field of medicine. It has published a report on the “Top Ten Common Health Issues” affecting Americans. The following is a summarized list of health issues contained in the report.
First, the lack of physical activity and proper nutrition. According to research, staying physically active can prevent or delay certain diseases, including some cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and depression.
Second, overweight and obesity. They increase the risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, and certain cancers.
Third, tobacco. It is considered the largest preventable disease now known as “Tobacco dependence disease.”
Fourth, substance abuse. It usually means alcohol and drugs, but it may include prescription drugs such as opioids, and may also include improperly mixing or confusing medications.
Fifth, HIV/AIDS. Interestingly, approximately 11% to 15% of AIDS cases in the United States occur in persons over 50 years of age. Since there has been an erroneous presumption that AIDS only affects certain groups, the problem as it affects seniors has been largely unrecognized or studied.
Sixth, Mental Health. Dementia is included in mental health which, according to the report, is not the result of aging. It may be caused by disease, medications, vision and hearing problems, infections, poor nutrition, diabetes and renal failure. Depression is also included. The rate of suicide for elderly white men is higher than any other group.
Seventh, Injuries and Violence. Falls are the leading cause of injuries to seniors. One out of three persons over 65 will incur a fall each year. The report recommends exercise and home modifications designed to prevent injury. These include home security and fire prevention devices. Persons over 65 are twice as likely to die in a home fire as the general population.
Eighth, Environmental Quality. This primarily has to do with economic wellbeing. Many seniors are living beyond their retirement savings causing a higher number of senior to live near the poverty threshold.
Ninth, Immunization. Influenza and pneumonia are to top 10 causes of death in senior adults. Vaccination is highly recommended. Pneumonia is more prevalent in older women.
Tenth, Access to Healthcare. Seniors apparently do not monitor their healthcare as well as they should, and it is recommended that they schedule regular wellness visits to their physician.
Banker Phares is a practicing attorney and founding member of the Estate Planning and Probate Law certification by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is the John and Karen Mast Professor at SFA and teaches in the Department of Economics and Finance.