Ageing is a fact of life. Everyone is getting older, and as we get older, chances are our health is will not be as strong as when we are younger.
Older people are susceptible to a number of conditions, and at rate higher than younger portions of the public. The most common conditions that people think of when they think of older people are dementia, arthritis and heart disease.
However, there are also other lesser known conditions, or rather, less talked about, that can impact older people.
These disorders can affect people of all ages, however they may cause different symptoms or complications in older people and can often be mistaken for other conditions like dementia.
Motor Neurone Disease
Nerve cells control the muscles that enable us to move, speak, breathe and swallow. Motor neurone disease, often abbreviated to MND, is a group of diseases in which these nerve cells fail to work normally.
In MND, muscles gradually weaken and waste as neurons degenerate and die.
Early symptoms may be mild and include stumbling due to weakness of the leg muscles, difficulty gripping due to weakness of the hand muscles, slurred speech or swallowing difficulties or cramps and muscle twitching.
As the conditions progresses the person can develop breathing difficulties, excessive fatigue, insomnia, behavioural changes, excessive laughing or crying due to damage to the upper motor neurones and pain or discomfort.
Progressive supranuclear palsy
Progressive supranuclear palsy, also known as Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome, is a brain disorder that causes serious problems with walking, balance and eye movements.
The disorder results from deterioration of cells in areas of your brain that control body movement and thinking.
Other symptoms can include dizziness, slow movements, facial stiffness, problems with thinking or changes in personality, slurred speech, mild shaking of hands.
Progressive supranuclear palsy worsens over time and can lead to life-threatening complications.
Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement, essentially the person has problems controlling the muscles of the body due to a breakdown of messages from the brain.
Symptoms can include uncontrollable shaking or trembling, stiff muscles, slower movements, shuffling when walking, problems with balance and difficulty standing up straight.
Dementia becomes common in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s.
Paget’s Disease, also known as Paget’s disease of bone, is a chronic bone disorder where the body’s normal recycling process, where new bone tissue gradually replaces old bone tissue, is disrupted causing the affected bones to become fragile and misshapen
Paget’s disease of bone most commonly affects the pelvis, skull, spine and legs. The condition can have no visible symptom for an extended period of time, but chances of developing the condition is higher if you have a family history of it.
When symptoms are visible, it can include pain in the bones or joints, headaches and hearing loss, pressure on nerves, increased head size, bowing of limb, or curvature of spine bone deformities, broken bones and chronic pain in the affected areas.
The thyroid is a gland in the neck that produces the thyroid hormone. There are two common conditions that impacts this gland – hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland is underactive and doesn’t release enough hormones. In younger people, symptoms can include weight gain and feeling sluggish. However, in elderly people the main symptom may be confusion.
Conversely, hyperthyroidism is when the gland is overactive and releasing too much hormone. When younger people have hyperthyroidism, they lose weight and can become easily agitated. Yet in older people, symptoms include becoming overly sleepy, withdrawn, confused and depressed.