Lesson 3 Physical Health

Lesson 3a: Reduced Hearing

The age-related hearing loss (ARHL) or presbycusis.

“Disabling hearing loss refers to hearing loss greater than 40 dB in the better hearing ear in adults (15 years or older)” 

(WHO, 2012)

Over 42% of people with any degree of hearing loss are aged above 60 years.

Globally, the prevalence of hearing loss increases exponentially with age, rising from 15.4% among people aged in their 60s, to 58.2% among those aged more than 90 years.

According to the World Hearing Report (2021):

  • Genetic Factors
  • Otosclerosis
  • Hypoxia or birth asphyxia
  • Low-birth weight
  • Meningitis and other infections
  • Hyperbilirubinemia
  • Work related ototoxic chemicals
  • Perinatal morbidities
  • Smoking
  • Trauma to the ear or head
  • Otitis media
  • Ototoxic medicines
  • Exposure to noise/loud sounds
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Age-related sensorineural degeneration
  • Maternal nutrition
  • Avoiding loud sounds and noise
  • Maternal hygiene
  • Breastfeeding
  • Good ear hygiene
  • Protection against head or ear injury
  • Healthy lifestyle
  • Immunization
  • Good nutrition

Lesson 3b: Reduced Vision

There are many eye conditions that can cause vision loss or blindness in the elderly.

  • can harm the sharp, central vision needed to see objects clearly and to do common things like driving and reading.
  • may occur if the patient has diabetes. It develops slowly, often with no early warning signs. Laser surgery in later stages can sometimes prevent it from getting worse.
  • are cloudy areas in the eye’s lens causing blurred or hazy vision. Some cataracts stay small and don’t change your eyesight much. Others become large and reduce vision. Cataract surgery can restore good vision and is a safe and common treatment.
  • is usually caused by too much fluid pressure inside the eye. If not treated, it can lead to vision loss and blindness. People with glaucoma often have no early symptoms or pain. Glaucoma can be treated with prescription eye drops, lasers or surgery. 
  • occurs when tear glands don’t work well. It feels like stinging or burning, a sandy feeling as if something is in the eye, or other discomfort. Dry eye is common as people get older, especially for women. Eye care professional usually advise to use a home humidifier or air purifier, special eye drops (artificial tears), or ointments to treat dry eye.

Risk Factors

Lesson 3c: Falls

Globally, they are the second leading cause of death from unintentional injuries and the highest mortality rate is found in adults over 60 years.

  • Age
  • Use of alcohol or substances
  • Neurological, cardiac or other disabilities
  • Drug side effects, physical inactivity and loss of balance, especially among the elderly
  • Poor mobility, knowledge and vision
  • Unsafe environments
  • Impaired vision
  • Weakeness, law balance
  • Home hazards
  • Medication
  • Chronic conditions

The focus should be on preventing or reducing the number of future falls and fall-related injuries and complications while maintaining as much of the patient’s function and independence as possible.

In the periodic physical or wellness examination, patients should be asked about falls in the past year and difficulty with balance or ambulation.

Patients who report a single fall and who do not have problems with balance should be given general information about reducing risk of falls.

It should include how to use drugs safely and reduce environmental hazards.

The use of ICT through information systems can bring many benefits to the lives of these people.

Elderly guided by a digital program can learn how to prevent falls and accidents.

Lesson 3d: Arthritis/ Osteoarthritis

  • Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, common in the elderly and usually affects the joints of the fingers and knee.
  • Osteoarthritis of the hands is mainly due to aging of the finger joints, decreased secretion of synovial fluid and thinning of cartilage.

Source: www.freepik.com

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness of the fingers
  • Decreased finger activity → muscle weakness and loss
  • Inappropriate activity → permanent joint deformity
  • A physical examination
  • A medical history
  • X-rays
  • Laboratory tests

Excessive pressure on an injured joint

Improper alignment of the joints

Excess weight

Source: image

  • Rest
  • Joint care
  • Pain relief
  • Weight control
  • Medicines
  • Surgery
  • Complementary treatment approaches

Lesson 3e: Cardiovascular Disease

People aged 65 and older are much more likely than younger people to suffer a heart attack, to have a stroke, or to develop coronary heart disease (commonly called heart disease) and heart failure

Heart disease is also a major cause of disability, limiting the activity and eroding the quality of life of millions of older people.

They are acute events triggered by an obstruction that prevents blood from being transported to the heart or brain.

  • pain or discomfort in the chest or arms, in the left shoulder in the back or the jaw;
  • weakness of the face, arm or leg (usually on one side of the face and / or body);
  • difficulty speaking or understanding speech;
  • vision issues;
  • difficulty walking, dizziness and/ or loss of balance or coordination;
  • severe headache for no known cause;
  • fainting or unconscious;
  • vomiting.

Aging can cause changes in the heart and blood vessels.

For example, as you get older, your heart can’t beat as fast during physical activity or times of stress as it did when you were younger.

However, the number of heartbeats per minute (heart rate) at rest does not change significantly with normal aging.

Risk Factors

Non-modifiable Modifiable
Diabetes mellitus
Family history of premature cardiovascular disease
Cigarette smoking

Physical inactivity                                                          

Lesson 3f: Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease characterized by elevated blood glucose levels.

Under normal circumstances, the pancreas produces the hormone insulin, which “transports” sugar from the blood to the cells to be used for energy.

When there is not enough insulin, then glucose stays in the blood and does not reach the cells.

  • extreme hunger, increased thirst
  • involuntary weight loss
  • frequent urination
  • blurred vision
  • tiredness
  • increased hunger, thirst, urination
  • blurred vision
  • fatigue
  • wounds that are slow to heal
  • infections
  • Continuous blood glucose measurement
  • Proper diet
  • Physical activity
  • Medication (by a doctor)
  • Control of blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Regular check for damage (to the eyes, kidneys and legs) to prevent any condition