As people age, they may experience new and chronic health conditions that make it difficult to participate in activities at home, at work, and in the community. For many people, successful aging means avoiding preventable conditions which may lead to disability, maintaining physical and social activity, and interacting with the community in meaningful ways. People who were born with disabilities or developed them early in life may experience aging differently from people who first develop disabilities as older adults.
According to the U.S. Census, an estimated 80% of adults 65 and older have at least one chronic disease, and about half have at least two. Some of the most common chronic diseases include diabetes, heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and stroke. These conditions can lead to disabilities which may impact people’s ability to live, work, and participate independently in their communities. People can reduce the impact of these chronic diseases by engaging in healthy behaviors as they age.
As the population ages, many people are growing older with physical disabilities they were either born with or acquired when they were younger, such as muscular dystrophy (MD), multiple sclerosis (MS), or spinal cord injury (SCI). In the general population, people have a higher risk of developing chronic health problems such as heart disease and cancer as they get older. Older adults with physical disabilities may have an even higher risk of health problems than their peers without disabilities for various reasons, including limited mobility and barriers to healthcare.
More than 65 million people in the US serve as caregivers to family members who have a disability or are seniors in need of assistance, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance, and the number of caregivers is expected to grow in the coming years. These caregivers include families of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), many of whom are also experiencing age-related disabilities. For adults with IDD, families are the single largest provider of care with more than half of adults with IDD living at home with family.
“Serious games” are computer or video games that use entertainment to train or educate the players. The games are developed and used to encourage skill development, improve health or cognitive function, or communicate messages of public safety or policy. These types of games could also help older adults to improve memory and cognition, or provide specific therapy following stroke or other health conditions. However, age-related changes like vision or hearing loss can make these games harder to play.
RehabWire para mayo de 2001 destaca el Mes de Estadounidenses Mayores. El número de estadounidenses mayores de 65 ha aumentado 11 veces lo que era en 1900. Las proyecciones ponen ese número en más de 70 millones en el año 2030. Los estadounidenses con discapacidades constituyen más de la mitad de la actual población mayor.
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