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Top Ten Aging Challenges

And What To Do About Them

By

Updated January 04, 2010

Aging well means having a savvy strategy to face the challenges that may be coming your way. Here's some advice on how to prevent or minimize your risk for each of these 10 challenges of aging, as identified by the University of Texas Medical School, Division of Palliative Medicine.

1. Functional Decline

Using a cane
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Changes in the body due to age can result in loss of muscle mass, changes in balance and other factors that impact day-to-day function. Overcoming these changes requires solid strategy, preventative measures and a good bit of common sense. Get started today preventing and modifying the changes your body is making.

2. Depression

Depression
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The elderly may very well be the age group most impacted by depression. Isolation, changes in the body and other factors all contribute to older people feeling sad and depressed. The good news is that many types of depression can be treated. Know the warning signs of depression and help older people get help.

3. Disease

Talking with Doctors
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Diseases can build up over time. Many older people are dealing with multiple diseases (and multiple medications). The symptoms of the disease can affect daily life and decrease the quality of life. Work hard to prevent disease and manage disease well to minimize the impact on your life.

4. Abuse and neglect

Anger
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Abuse and neglect of older persons is far too common. Often, older persons rely on others for care and support. Older persons may even (sometimes due to depression) neglect themselves. Learn the signs of elder abuse and neglect and take action to help the elderly in your life.

5. Financial exploitation

Stealing
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Older people can be sitting ducks for scams. Often, older people are more trusting and need more help with finances -- a perfect combination for exploitation. Pay attention to strange and unexpected financial changes and treat any financial "help" with suspicion.

6. Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver
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Caregivers are an essential to help people stay independent as they age and be sure that medical and other needs are taken care of. The problem is that caregiving is hard work. A challenge of aging is making sure that caregivers are staying healthy themselves and avoiding burnout. Luckily, there are some simple things that can be done to help caregivers stay strong, healthy and upbeat.

7. Death and Dying

Dying
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Death and dying are just a part of aging. Not only do each of us have to come to terms with our own death, as we age, we will have to face the deaths of friends and loved ones. Developing an approach to death that works for you is essential to healthy aging.

8. Polypharmacy

Supplements
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Polypharmacy is a term for "many medications" that refers to the fact that many seniors find themselves seeing multiple doctors for different health problems. Often, these doctors will prescribe medication without fully knowing all the medications and other supplements that their patient is taking. Medications can cancel each other out or interact and produce unwanted and even dangerous side effects. It is up to the individual patient to protect herself and communicate with doctors about medications.

9. Falls

Preventing Falls
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Combine vision problems, weakness and a loss of balance (all things that happen with aging) and you've created a recipe for falling. Add to that a loss of bone density and those falls become very serious. Every older person (and every person taking care of them) should assess home and other places for ways to prevent falls.

10. Dementia

brain
Michael Matisse / Getty Images
Alzheimer's disease and dementia can be tragic. The sufferers of these conditions lose the ability to function in the world and can even lose their identity. Know the signs of these illnesses and take action to troubleshoot the numerous problems that dementia or Alzheimer's can cause.

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