Sunday, August 21, 2016
In the UK, many people are now living for longer and life expectancy is continuing to rise, with the average age currently sitting at 81 years old. With this increase in life expectancy also comes a number of age related ailments. Whilst some of these are all part of the natural aging process and may require treatment from a GP or specialist, many of them are minor health issues that can easily be treated by a pharmacist.
Arthritis is one of the most common conditions associated with the over 65s, although it affects around 10 million people in the UK across all ages. It is a condition that affects the joints, causing them to become painful and inflamed. While it’s a chronic disease, it can be managed with treatments like painkillers, corticosteroids and steroids, which can be prescribed by your GP or some of them can be bought over the counter at a pharmacy.
Aches and pains
After decades of use, it’s only natural that your body will begin to wind down as you get older, which is when you’re likely to experience common aches and pains in joints and muscles. This can cause a decrease in a person’s mobility, but doing gentle strengthening exercises and taking supplements, which can be bought over the counter, like omega 3 fatty oils, calcium and vitamin C can help to improve the immune system, strengthen bones and help reduce the wear and tear on joints.
As you age, your mobility will decrease, this may not necessarily be due to arthritis or osteoporosis, but just general aches and pains of old age. This decreased mobility can make it more likely for the elderly to fall or sustain cuts and bruises. However, unless it’s a serious injury, many of these can be treated by a trip to the pharmacy for anti-bacterial creams and bandages to help keep the wounds clean, as well as anti-inflammatory creams and gels to reduce swelling and bruising.
A very common condition for the elderly is dry skin that can be itchy, flaky and in some cases the skin can start to bleed, which is not only painful, but can also be prone to infection as senior citizen’s often have lower immune systems.
If you’re suffering from dry, itchy skin whether it’s isolated or more severe skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, you can seek advice from your pharmacist who can provide you with non-prescription topical ointments to moisturise the skin, reduce inflammation and relieve itching. Of course, if the ailment persists or is very painful, you should take a visit to your GP.
As we age, our mouths become drier, which can make cavities more common. This can result in a decline in oral and dental health, such as the loss of teeth and gum disease, but it can have a knock-on effect on general health too. As you age, it’s important to maintain good oral and dental hygiene with regular dental check-ups, as well as using age appropriate dental products from pharmacies like mouthwash, denture cleaning solutions and toothpaste.
Sleeping patterns can also become disrupted as you get older, with many elderly people suffering from sleep related ailments such as insomnia, sleep apnoea or general fatigue. These can have a dramatic effect on their overall health, leaving them feeling continuously tired and unable to function properly. Seeking advice from your GP can mean you’re prescribed medication to manage sleep disorders, but also staying active, eating a healthy, balanced diet and ensuring you get the right nutrients through additional supplements can also help fight the signs of aging.
If you’re fit and healthy, common colds and flu during the winter months shouldn’t cause too much concern. However, as you get older, the risk of having serious effects from the flu virus and influenza increases, and can even result in death. This is why in the UK all people aged 65 or over are offered the flu vaccination free on the NHS. This can be administered at your local GP or some pharmacies also offer this service, so you can find the most convenient location for you.
Getting old and the ailments that come with it are all a natural part of life, but it’s important to remember that if you are suffering from age related illnesses and issues, you’re not alone.