Common Illnesses for the Elderly

Understanding care for the elderly means that you have to get a grasp of common illnesses that affect this age group. It is very important that the elderly keep up with regular doctor’s appointments, follow their healthcare professional’s advice, and get health problems checked out quickly. If you are caring for an elderly parent or family member or you are a senior citizen who is curious about your own health needs, you should be aware of problems that are likely to occur at this time of life. Some illnesses, like the flu or food poisoning, that might be a temporary setback at thirty can quickly prove deadly for elderly populations. We explore some of the most common health concerns for the elderly below.

Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease is the number one illness that affects elderly patients. In fact, it is the number one killer of the general population. Although some people are genetically predisposed to heart disease because of other health conditions, this disease is mainly caused by a narrowing and hardening of the arteries because of fat deposits and cholesterol. Diet and exercise can help treat and prevent this illness if they are part of long-term habits. It is important for seniors to eat healthy foods and stay active, if they are able, to protect their hearts. Those who are elderly should not make rapid diet or exercise changes without consulting a physician.


The United States is experiencing an epidemic of type 2 diabetes because of the obesity rate in the American population. This disease was often commonly called adult onset diabetes in the past, but rampant obesity means that children and teenagers are now often diagnosed with this disease. Diabetes develops because the body does not produce or does not respond properly to insulin. The elderly are particularly at risk for this disease and from its more harmful side effects, including loss of consciousness, amputation, and death. Elderly patients with diabetes should carefully monitor their diet and blood sugar. Families should also be aware that although type 2 diabetes is often a problem for those who are overweight, even seniors who are thin are at risk for this illness.

The Flu

Particularly bad flu outbreaks can kill tens of thousands of individuals, even in our age of medical advancements. Children and the elderly are at the highest risk for complications and death resulting from the flu. This illness can lead to respiratory infections and pneumonia, both of which can be especially lethal to the elderly. Make sure that elderly family members get the flu vaccine each season and take colds and coughs seriously.


Cancer is one of the number one killers of the general population, and it is especially common among elderly patients. Cancer can strike those with no family history of the disease and those who have maintained healthy habits. It is important to go to the doctor for regular screenings for common cancers, such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer. Make sure that any changes in the body or levels of energy are discussed with your doctor.

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