Facts About Senior Citizens and Their Health

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the proportion of individuals over 60 will almost double from 12% in 2015 to 22% in 2050. This aging of the world’s population is unprecedented. But does health improve with age?

The number of healthy life years – disability-free life expectancy – has been rising steadily in most countries. Life expectancy at birth grew globally from 61 years in 1990 to 71 years in 2013, and it is anticipated to reach 73 years in 2030 and 84 years in 2050.

These additional years allow people to pursue active, productive, and rewarding lives. However, two things immensely influence our years left on this planet: our health and lifestyle.

To better understand this aging population, let’s uncover some facts about senior citizens and their health.

Nursing Homes are Becoming Common:

People need more assistance than family or friends can provide as they age. When this happens, many people turn to nursing homes for help.

There are presently over 16,000 nursing homes in the United States. The Kaiser Family Foundation calculated 1,246,079 nursing facility residents in the US in 2019. And as the senior population rises, these figures are expected to grow further.

Although many people entrust the care of their elderly loved ones to nursing homes, there are some drawbacks to this arrangement. One such drawback is nursing home abuse. According to NCEA, 44%

of nursing home residents complain of having experienced home abuse at some point. And these are the ones who spoke up about it. There are many more who don’t. In reported abuse cases, the resident or their family member can file a nursing home lawsuit against the facility. These lawsuits help recover damages caused by the abuse and act as a deterrent for future cases of abuse.

Non-communicable Diseases Always Pose a Risk:

Age makes our bodies more susceptible to chronic, non-communicable diseases like heart conditions and diabetes. These are the leading cause of death. It could be because of genetics, a lifetime of unhealthy habits, or even environmental factors.

Other non-communicable diseases might be a result of falls or functional decline. These include Alzheimer’s and dementia, which rise as our population ages.

Older people are at risk of developing more than one non-communicable disease simultaneously. It is called multimorbidity, a growing concern, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. It could be because of the living conditions or increased exposure to environmental pollutants.

Chronic diseases are also a leading cause of disability. They can make it hard to perform essential daily activities like bathing, dressing, and eating.

Health Conditions in Older Adults are Not Random:

The lifestyle decisions older adults make, their access to high-quality treatment, and their social and economic circumstances impact their health. It’s not something they develop overnight as they reach a certain age.

For instance, someone who has smoked throughout their life is more likely to develop chronic bronchitis or lung cancer as they age. Similarly, someone who has never had a proper diet is more likely to develop obesity or diabetes.

Similarly, social and economic conditions affect an individual’s health. People living in poverty or lacking social support are more likely to have poorer health as they age. SDH, or social determinants of health, are a major factor in health and wellbeing. According to WHO, the social determinants may be more significant than healthcare or lifestyle choices in determining health. For example, SDH accounts for 30-55% of health outcomes.

There’s a Need for More Physical Activity:

As we age, our bodies become more sedentary. We tend to move less and spend more time sitting down. This lack of physical activity causes a host of health problems.

Obesity is a growing problem among older adults. According to the CDC, 40% of adults 65 years and older are obese. We can expect a ride in these figures as the aging population increases.

Obesity puts people at risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, and type II diabetes. It also increases the likelihood of developing certain types of cancer. Older adults need to be physically active to stay healthy and independent. According to 2008, Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, older must do aerobic and muscle-strengthening to enhance their health.

Aerobic activities like walking, jogging, swimming, and biking are great for heart health. They must be given 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes vigorous intensity every week. Muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights, push-ups, and sit-ups should be done twice a week.


As the baby boomer generation ages, the number of senior citizens will only increase. And with that, we need to be aware of the health concerns that come with age. Chronic diseases, multimorbidity, and functional decline are all major health concerns for older adults.

But it’s important to realize that everything can be controlled well. Our lifestyle choices, social determinants of health, and access to quality healthcare determine how healthy we are in our old age. So, let’s make the right choices!

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