Drug- and alcohol-related deaths rising among adults ages 65 and older, CDC warns

Two new reports from the CDC show that drug- and alcohol-related deaths are on the rise for Americans age 65 and older. Deaths from drug overdoses have more than tripled in the past 20 years, with more than 5,000 people over the age of 65 dying from drug overdoses in 2020 and 11,616 dying from alcohol-related causes. “It is important to describe changes in these causes of death for all age groups, including the elderly population,” says Ellen Kramarow, one of the authors of the new reports and health statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics. While the CDC hasn’t explored the factors behind these behaviors, Kramarow believes they are universal. “It’s not unreasonable to think that the forces affecting young people also affect people 65 and older,” she says. “Among men and women, drug overdose death rates among 65-year-olds are highest among non-Hispanic blacks,” the CDC report said. “The exception is among women ages 75 and older — non-Hispanic white women in this age group have the highest death rates. Death rates from alcohol-induced causes among people 65 years of age and older were highest among American Indians or Alaska Natives. Alcohol-induced death rates for this group were more than double those for the next highest group (Hispanics). Rates increased 46.5% for AIAN people in just one year, from 2019 to 2020.” Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl have impacted the health of older adults, with death rates rising 53% from 2019 to 2020 among people aged 65 and older. “As we get older, the way we metabolize drugs changes, and as a result, the effects of alcohol differ as we age.” says Peter Hendricks, professor at the University of Alabama at the Birmingham School of Public Health Department of Health Behavior. “For many people, what may have been a reasonable or moderate level of alcohol consumption at some point in the past is now sufficient to lead to significant intoxication or intoxication. The risk of falls, motor vehicle accidents and other types of accidents increases as as you get older due to age-related changes in motor coordination. What might be considered “casual” alcohol use could eventually become fatal as alcohol further impairs motor coordination. This could lead to, for example, to a fatal fall in the house”. Five other leading causes of death and illness for people over the age of 65 are as follows. Read on and to ensure your health and that of others, do not miss them Sure signs you’ve already had COVID.

1

Heart disease

Heart disease is a leading cause of death for people over the age of 65. Statistics show that people at low risk of coronary heart disease live ten years longer than people at high risk, so it’s important to understand your risk factors. “We prefer to prevent heart attacks in the first place,” she says Johns Hopkins cardiologist Seth Martin, MD, MHS. “And to do that, we want to identify and manage risks as early as possible. Age alone doesn’t cause coronary heart disease, but the older you get, the longer you’re exposed to the effects of risks like high blood pressure or a style of unhealthy life, the greater the overall risk”. Risk factors for heart disease are age, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, excess weight, smoking, and other lifestyle factors such as exercise. “A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight cardiovascular disease”, says the American Heart Association. “The food you eat (and the amount) can influence other controllable risk factors: cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and being overweight. Choose nutrient-dense foods — which have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but are lower in calories — over low in nutrients: choose a diet that emphasizes the intake of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, non-tropical vegetable oils and nuts, and limits the intake of sweets, sugary drinks and red meats.And to maintain a healthy weight, coordinate your diet with your level of physical activity so you’re using up as many calories as you take in.

2

Cancer

woman in white t-shirt with breast cancer pink ribbon

woman in white t-shirt with breast cancer pink ribbon

Cancer is a leading cause of death for people over the age of 65. “Age is the highest risk factor for developing most cancers, with few exceptions,” says Andrei V. Gudkov, PhD, DSci. “According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the median age of patients at cancer diagnosis is 66. The majority of cancer patients – 60 percent of them – are 65 or older. In fact, a a quarter of new cancer patients cases are diagnosed in people between the ages of 65 and 74. And the most common cancers occur more often in older patients. The median age for breast cancer is 61, for the colorectal cancer is 68 and for lung cancer it is 70. Aging increases the risks of cancer in our bodies in several ways. The older we get, the higher the proportion we acquire of cells with mutations. And these cells create high-risk populations for recruitment of cancer-initiating cells.” Lifestyle factors can have a significant impact on cancer prevention. “First and most importantly, we need to understand and find ways to treat aging to extend a person’s ability to stay healthy,” says Dr. Gudkov. “Current science is massively shifting towards the development of anti-aging therapies. In anticipation of these emerging solutions, which are expected to radically change the situation for the better, we can still help ourselves by practicing healthy lifestyle habits to slow down aging and thus reduce the risk of cancer. These include eating a healthy diet, consuming antioxidants and treating chronic inflammation. In addition to preventive measures, the best anti-cancer defense is education and preparation: knowing that the risk of cancer increases with As we age, we need to follow recommended procedures for early detection of cancer and be aware of the steps we may need to take if we do get cancer and need to choose a treatment regimen.”

3

COVID-19

Doctor and patient infected with covid-19 on bed in hospital.

Doctor and patient infected with covid-19 on bed in hospital.

COVID-19 has been deadly to the elderly: Statistics show that nearly 9 out of 10 COVID deaths are people over the age of 65. “On average, older adults are less resilient. They don’t have the same ability to recover from serious illness,” says Dr. Ken Cohenexecutive director of translational research for Optum Care. Gregg Gonsalves, an associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health, believes the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. In an open letter he and other experts had published Oct. 7 in the BMJ, it has been emphasized that pandemics do not disappear suddenly. “Booster coverage, even among older Americans, is appalling, with only half of vaccinated adults receiving a booster. This ranks the United States 73rd globally in booster coverage. Less than 6 percent of immunocompromised Americans, a group that accounted for nearly 1 in 5 hospital admissions during the surge BA.2: received Evusheld, a therapy to help prevent covid-19 The U.S. continues to have worse outcomes than most similar countries The per capita death rate in the United States surpassed other high-income countries in the past year, lowering the country’s average life expectancy for the second consecutive year. press this fall to reverse these trends and reach more audiences with boosters and antivirals.”

4

Obesity/slide title]

According to to the CDC, 41.9% of men and 45.9% of women aged 65-74 are obese. “Obesity can occur at any age, even in young children,” says the Mayo Clinic. “But as we age, hormonal changes and a less active lifestyle increase the risk of obesity. Also, the amount of muscle in the body tends to decrease with age. In general, less muscle mass leads to a decreased metabolism.These changes also reduce your calorie needs and can make it more difficult to maintain excess weight.If you don’t consciously control what you eat and become more physically active as you age, you will likely gain weight. Obesity in the elderly may result in fewer years of independence and good health. “Among older adults, upper and lower extremity physical function and the ability to perform activities of daily living are critical to their daily functioning, and therefore important indicators of health,” says Dr. Rahul Malhotra, research lead in the Center for Aging Research and Education, assistant professor in the Health Systems and Services Research Program, Duke-NUS Medical School. “We investigated whether older adults with pre-obesity and obesity, compared with those with normal weight, have the same or fewer years of healthy life, when health is defined using these relevant indicators.”

[slidetitle num=”5″]High blood pressure

Healthcare visitor and an elderly man during a home visit.

Healthcare visitor and an elderly man during a home visit.

66.7% of men and 74.3% of women aged 65 to 74 suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension. “Early diagnosis of high blood pressure is very important. Often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ because it may show no symptoms, high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, heart failure and stroke, among other things,” says the FDA. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, more than 360,000 deaths in the United States included hypertension as a primary or contributing cause.” “Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). In general, hypertension is a blood pressure reading of 130/80 mm Hg or higher,” says nephrologist Leslie Thomas, MD. “Risks for developing primary hypertension include family history, older age, obesity, high sodium diet, alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity…Healthy lifestyle habits — such as not smoking, exercising, and eating well — can help prevent and treat high blood pressure. Some people need medicine to treat high blood pressure.”

6

How to stay safe out there

Follow public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live: get vaccinated or boosted as soon as possible; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 maskdo not travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, do not enter homes with people you are not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene and to protect your life and the lives of others, do not visit anyone from these 35 places you’re most likely to catch COVID.

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