When it comes to staying healthy in older age, the maze of information can be dizzying for laypeople. The human body experiences many changes as it ages, frequently including slower movements, decreased eyesight and hearing, as well as forgetfulness. But where is the line between natural and expected changes in older people, and worrisome transformations in their bodies?
To help guide readers to a healthy retirement, RetirementHomes.com spoke to three registered nurses with home care agencies who are leaders in the healthcare field about what are the most worrisome health symptoms seniors can’t ignore- and which symptoms aren’t as dangerous as they may appear at first.
Sharon Roth Maguire, a registered nurse and Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations with BrightStar Care, told RetirementHomes.com not all signs of aging should cause worry among seniors, but there are ways to know the difference between normal aspects of aging, and worrisome changes.
“Changes that should be looked at immediately are those which are profoundly peculiar, and subtle and sustained,” Roth Maguire said. “Small changes that happen over a long period of time probably aren’t something to worry about, but if something big happens overnight, go see your doctor immediately.”
Amy Ostrolenk, a registered nurse and Director of Asbury Methodist Village at Home, concurred, and also suggested older people become familiar with both warning signs of major health problems, as well as their general health risks.
“Chest pain or pressure is common among seniors, and it’s often written off as a normal part of the aging process,” Ostrolenk told RetirementHomes.com. “And while these chest pains may not be anything serious, it’s important to keep in mind that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women,” she said.
Ostrolenk added that if there is a pre-existing condition, or a history of specific medical problems in a family history, the risks become greater, and so does the importance of vigilance and watching out for problematic warning signs.
Gina Kaurich, a registered nurse with FirstLight HomeCare, said one area of their health where seniors frequently become over-zealous in their monitoring is with blood pressure.
“Fluctuation of temperature, blood pressure and pulse is really quite normal,” Kaurich said. “However, many seniors take their vital signs several times a day and become overly concerned with any minute change.”
Have you ever experienced frightening health warning signs? Did they end up being false alarms, or real problems? Tell us about it in the comment section below: