Health is a condition of being physically, socially, mentally, and emotionally well (Carstensen, 2006). Behaviour involves a collection of dealings and characteristics that individuals make within their surroundings. With this respect, health status of an individual can cause behavior change and vice versa.
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Carstensen (2006) provides that there are many factors that can cause behaviour change. They include age, peer group influence, and financial status just to mention but a few. Age, as a sole factor, determines physical, emotional, mental, and social characteristics of a person.
This research paper deals with health behaviour change for ageing people especially those aged sixty five years and above.
Physical, Emotional, Mental and Social Characteristics of Ageing People
- Biological functions slow down and reserves get depleted.
- The skin looses elasticity and becomes dry and wrinkled.
- Coldness is felt as blood supply to the skin is limited.
- The skin becomes thinner, might be prone to breaking and eventually contract infections.
- Loss of teeth, lengthening of the nose, and whitening and thinning of hair.
- Decrease in the bone mass and compression of backbone causing a bowed back.
- Loss of bone elasticity making them to become more brittle, thus increasing the chances of breaking.
- Sense of hearing, sight, taste, touch, and smell become less sensitive.
The above characteristics cause discomfort and illness in old people. For example, they may lead to loss of appetite leading to poor eating habits. This may result to malnutrition, disorientation and inactivity. Lack of coordination may results in failure of the nervous system leading to wrong perception of reflex messages such as thirst, hunger, walking, chewing, and breathing. Those disorders make an aging person to isolate himself/herself from the community. This makes them to suffer from depression, lack of appetite and decreased vitality.
The memory of an ageing person decreases progressively. Moreover, the ability to handle large tasks and recall them diminishes. However, the ability to learn does not decrease, for those individuals who do exercises continuously. Their short-term memory declines while long- term memory remains sharp. Mental illness in aged people is another old-age characteristic associated with infection, poor nutrition, poor medication and hydration (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1998).
Major Health problems of aged people (65 years and above)
Common health problems associated with old-age are as discussed below:
Incontinence is a condition of loss of control of the bladder leading to involuntary urine leakage (Eisdorfer, 2007). It is caused by stress and urge urinary incontinences in women. According to research work done by several specialists, the urethra may fail to provide the necessary support. This usually results from the damage of the pelvic structure which occurs during childbirth. It is identified by the leakage of small amount of urine when the abdomen experiences a rise in pressure through coughing, lifting, and sneezing. Other causes include caffeine beverages, which stimulate the bladder, enlarged prostrate (in men above 40), other disorders such as injury of the spinal cord, strokes, and multiple sclerosis which interfere with the functioning of the bladder nerves (Eisdorfer 2007).
Heart diseases include: heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, and coronary artery disease.
Coronary artery disease
The main symptoms of coronary artery disease include nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, and chest pain, discomfort, heaviness, and pressure and fullness .This condition is also experienced in the arms, back, neck, jaws, shoulders, and the throat.
It is characterized by heaviness, discomfort, pressure, pain in the arms and chest, fullness, heartburn, sweating, dizziness, vomiting, indigestion and nausea. However, some people (more particularly diabetic people) suffer from heart attack without experiencing any symptoms.
Stroke occurs when brain cells die abruptly due to limited supply of oxygen. It can be caused by the blockage of blood flow to the brain or breaking of the artery that supplies the brain with blood. The affected individual may become unconscious or get paralyzed one side of the body. Research provides that stress exists in two types namely ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.
Ischemic stroke is more common as compared to hemorrhagic. It occurs when blood flow into the brain is hindered. On the other hand, hemorrhagic stroke occur when a blood vessel on the surface of the brain breaks, and hence limiting blood supply to the brain. Blood from the ruptured vessel fills the space brain and the skull. Severity of a stroke depends on where it has occurred and the amount of brain distressed (Adelman &Greene, 2000).
Stroke might lead to weaknesses on the appendages, cause death, or paralysis. The victims may suffer from partial body weaknesses, speaking difficulties, and bladder problems. Susceptible victims of stroke include people over age of 55, high blood pressure victims, male, people with family stroke history, previous stroke, overweight, heavy alcoholic use, cocaine use, and high cholesterol (Adelman &Greene, 2000). Symptoms of stroke include blurred vision, speech problem, sudden serious headache, dizziness, and loss of balance and coordination.
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High blood pressure
It is a condition in which blood flows with high strength against the artery walls. Majority of people with high blood pressure do not experience signs and symptoms of this disease. However, it can be manifested through increased nose-breeding, headache, and dizziness (Eisdorfer, 2007).
Causes of High Blood Pressure
- High consumption of salt
- Birth control pills
- Lack of exercises
- Family history with blood pressure
Type 2 Diabetes
In type 2 diabetic victims, the pancreas produces inadequate insulin that the body fails to use adequately. This results into poor conversion of blood sugar into glycogen, which is stored in the body cells. Therefore, blood sugar accumulates in the blood causing malfunctioning of the cells. People vulnerable to type 2 diabetes include people aged above 45, members of certain races or ethnic groups, inactive and overweight people, and family members who have type 2 diabetes. This condition causes poor regulation of blood sugar in the body, and the victim constantly depends on medication, which may be expensive. It may also cause other abnormalities such as weakness of the patient due to insufficient energy.
Eisdorfer (2007) provides that arthritis is a disorder that causes disability among aged people due to joint inflammation. There are many types of arthritis, but the most common one is osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease.
Causes of Arthritis
Arthritis is mainly caused by joint inflammation, and muscle strains. It also results from everyday wear and tear of joint, damage of joint by diseases and fatigue due to poor sleeping behaviours.
Health Intervention Strategy for Arthritis
Arthritis has no specific cure, but treatment choices differ depending on the type of arthritis. Some of the intervention strategies include:
- Physical therapy
- Joint Replacement surgery
- Administering exercises and controlling weigh.
- Medication to decline inflammation
- Orthopedic balancing
Conclusion and Recommendations
It is factual that health of ageing people deteriorates, and they feel neglected. Therefore, the whole society should understand their condition so that they can provide them with adequate support. I recommend that governments should chip in, and provide free healthcare and if possible establish care homes for the ageing (Eisdorfer, 2007).
Adelman, R.D., Greene, M.G. (2000).Communication between older patients and their physicians, Cli Geriatr Med, 16 (1): 1-24.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2000). Mental Health and Wellbeing: Frofile of Adults in AustraliaCanberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Carstensen, L. (1989). Aged-related changes in social activity. In: Carstensen. L., & Edelstein, B. (Eds), Handbook of clinical gerontology (pp.222-237). New York: Springer.
Eisdorfer, C. (2007).The implication of Research for medical practice. The Gerontologist, 10, 62-67.