Alzheimer's and Aging Research Center of Torrey Pines, California

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Common Age Related Diseases

There are several classes of health issues that confront today's seniors. Some of them are chronic conditions that, while at least theoretically capable of showing up at a younger age, are typically seen with the highest frequency in older patients. These diseases include:

  • Osteoarthritis
    As people grow older, cumulative wear and tear on the cartilage and supportive tissue of the joints begins to produce the inflammation, pain, and stiffness characteristic of this condition.
  • Osteoporosis
    Years of depletion of calcium from the bones gradually makes them more brittle, until some seniors are at risk of disabling bone breakage from even simple falls. Calcium depletion is especially a problem for post-menopausal women, who are no longer protected from this loss by naturally-occurring estrogen.
  • Cardiovascular disease
    Years of strain on the heart, exacerbated by gradual accumulation of cholesterol plaques in blood vessels, can set seniors up for a variety of heart and circulatory problems.
  • Alzheimer's
    After decades of research, we still have many more questions than answers about this troubling syndrome that can rob seniors of their memory and independence.
  • Diabetes
    Years of eating patterns that have put a strain on the body's ability to regulate blood sugar with insulin can lead to adult-onset diabetes in one's later years, along with all the additional risks diabetes brings along to the heart, circulatory system, eyesight, and more.

There are also many acute health problems whose rate of occurrence increases with age, such as stroke and heart attack. These are very frequently traceable to one or more of the chronic conditions outlined above—for instance, a senior with cardiovascular disease or diabetes is at an obviously increased risk for a stroke or heart attack.