7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50

Obesity

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As the years roll on, our waistlines expand. More than one-third of adults 65 and older were obese, according to a 2007-2010 survey report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC estimated in a 2009 report that an obese person spent 42 percent more for health care — an average of $1,429 per person –than people of normal weight.

How to cut costs. Slimming down significantly reduces your risk of being diagnosed with many costly health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer and osteoarthritis.

Switching to a healthful diet and starting an exercise program are inexpensive ways to avoid the costs associated with obesity.

Heart problems

Heartsiam.pukkato / Shutterstock.com

Simply put, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.

This condition encompasses many problems related to atherosclerosis, a narrowing of the arteries due to a buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances. Heart disease costs the nation about $200 billion annually, according to the CDC.

How to cut costs. Several medical conditions are closely related to a higher risk of developing heart disease. They include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Smoking

A better diet and regular exercise can help you reduce your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol readings. And quitting smoking is among the best ways to both improve your health and save some money.

Declining oral health

DentistDmitry Kalinovsky / Shutterstock.com

About 25 percent of Americans ages 60 and older do not have any of their natural teeth, according to the CDC. That’s a sobering reminder that our oral health begins to slip as we age.

Treating such conditions can be expensive. Americans of all ages spent $124 billion on dental expenses in 2016, according to the American Dental Association.

How to cut costs. Regular visits to the dentist are the best way to catch conditions early, when they are less costly to treat. The ADA notes that while some people should see their dentist just once or twice annually, others may require more frequent visits. Consult with your dentist to find the right schedule for you.

Dental visits can be costly if you do not have dental insurance. The ADA website offers help finding more affordable care.

Shingles

Shinglesone photo / Shutterstock.com

While this illness is likely to be far less costly than others on the list, it deserves attention because it is so prevalent in the over-50 demographic. In fact, while close to 1 in 3 people will develop it at some point, half of all cases of shingles are diagnosed in people 60 and older.

Shingles is a painful, blistering rash. And complications related to shingles — from the blisters to an ongoing type of pain called post-herpetic neuralgia, or PHN, which can last for months or years after the rash is gone — can take a toll on your wallet.

How to cut costs. Fortunately, there is an easy and affordable fix for shingles: vaccination. As we reported last year, a new vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing shingles in folks age 50 and older. For more information, check out “CDC Urges Everyone 50 and Older to Get New Vaccine.”

How do you cut health care costs? Share your tips in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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