3 “Geriatric” Conditions That Can Afflict Anyone 

As members of your family age, you’re likely witnessing firsthand some of the conditions that have affected their daily lives. From the aches and pains associated with arthritis to dementia, a disease that slowly steals memories and abilities to complete everyday tasks, numerous challenges come with getting older. 

While we all hope these conditions will simply pass us by as we age, they’re a possibility all the same. But did you know that some “geriatric” conditions can occur far earlier in life? 

In this article, we’re exploring three conditions that can impact people at any age and sharing some tips to keep you in optimal health now and in the future. 

#1 Osteoporosis 

As children, many of us were inundated with the Got Milk? ads of the ‘90s. In addition to believing we could emulate the actors and singers in the ads if we drank our daily dose of dairy, we also learned how milk helped us grow strong bones — and the ads weren’t wrong. 

Dairy products, including milk and cheese, are rich sources of calcium, the mineral responsible for hardening and strengthening our bones. And while your adult diet may still include that daily glass of milk, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll stave off osteoporosis until your golden years. 

On the contrary, several factors contribute to whether you may be more likely to have osteoporosis, including: 

  • Sex 
    Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men, especially as they enter their menopausal years. The decline of estrogen levels can increase some women’s likelihood of developing weaker bones. 
  • Race 
    Those of Asian descent often have a lower bone density, lending to a higher risk of osteoporosis as they age. 
  • Family history 
    If a member of your family has osteoporosis, you may have a greater hereditary risk of getting it. 
  • The size of your body frame 
    Individuals with smaller body frames sometimes have less bone mass to tap into as they age, putting them at a higher risk. 

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can increase your chances of maintaining a healthy bone density, including: 

  • Getting enough calcium and vitamin D 
    You can reach your daily recommended dose of 1,000 mg of calcium and 600 IU of vitamin D by taking supplements or ensuring you’re consuming foods that contain adequate levels of each. You can also receive an adequate dose of vitamin D by stepping outside and soaking in the sun’s rays for 5 to 30 minutes a day, depending on the amount of melanin in your skin. Those with darker skin have more melanin and require more sunlight to synthesize the vitamin D. 
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight 
    Being underweight increases your chances of getting osteoporosis, so aim for a healthy body weight with the help of a hearty diet and exercise. 

#2 Arthritis 

Many people assume arthritis is a condition that waits in the wings, eventually knocking on your door once you reach your 50s or 60s. Arthritis is indeed more common for older adults, with 47% of people age 65 and over reporting doctor-diagnosed arthritis. 

However, arthritis can also affect people at a much younger age. About one in 1,000 children develop some type of arthritis. While its cause is unknown, doctors believe it’s associated with autoimmune conditions, with flare-ups occurring when the body attacks its healthy tissues. 

Certain predispositions, such as sex and genetics, play a role in increasing a person’s chances of having arthritis. But one of the biggest causes is wear and tear on the joints from activities such as repetitive motions, high-impact sports or heavy lifting. To decrease your risk of getting arthritis at any age, you can limit inflammatory foods, maintain a healthy weight, keep yourself (and therefore your joints) hydrated and stay active. 

#3 Depression 

As people enter later stages of life, some begin experiencing great losses, including the deaths of family members and friends, reduced mobility and loss of independence. While these factors contribute to depression in older adults, the mood disorder is certainly not exclusive to this demographic. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 8.3% of all U.S. adults have experienced at least one major depressive episode. Fortunately, there are many treatment options for people experiencing symptoms of depression, including: 

  • Attending therapy sessions. 
  • Taking prescribed medication. 
  • Making lifestyle changes. 
  • Finding support from loved ones. 

Earn a Degree in Aging From the University of Florida 

With a graduate credential in aging, you’ll be more equipped to help people of all ages who are experiencing conditions commonly associated with older adults. If your passions lie with helping the elderly navigate the next chapter in their lives, the first step in pursuing that career is earning an online graduate credential. 

UF offers several online graduate programs to choose from based on your interests and professional aspirations, including: 

Master’s Degrees 

Both of our 30-credit master’s degrees are entirely online, allowing you to complete your program in as little as two years or at a pace that fits your busy schedule: 

Graduate Certificate 

Our 15-credit Graduate Certificate in Aging and Geriatric Practice is the ultimate way to distinguish yourself from the competition quickly and affordably, especially if you’re interested in continuing your education in medical school or another health-profession school. 

Choose the program that’s right for you and start the process of becoming a virtual Gator at UF. Apply today!