Managing prostate problems in the elderly
Prostate problems are a common for men aged 50 years and above. While some problems may mean a common part of aging, others may signal something very serious.
Prostate gland – understanding the anatomy and functions
The prostate is basically a walnut–sized gland, that is just below the bladder and its main function is to produce semen. As men grow older, the size of the prostate tends to get larger. This process of increase in size as age advances, seems to be normal. Until the size of the gland gets so big, that it begins to create problems for the elderly men.
Most common prostate diseases are:
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia. Abbreviated as BPH, is one of the most common prostate problems in older men. 60% mean aged 60 years and above and 80% men aged 80 years and above suffer from BPH. It is when an enlarged prostate that begins to compress the urethra, blocking the urine flow. The condition is non–cancerous in nature, but does require treatment.
- Prostatitis. Prostatitis is a condition, characterized by inflammation of the prostate gland. It is common in men aged 50 years or below. However, It can also affect elderly adults males. Prostatitis causes painful urination in the affected population. It can be either acute or chronic in nature and the treatment depends on the cause of the condition. Bacterial infections can also cause this and antibiotics are the sure choice.
- Prostate cancer. Cancer of the prostate, is a common illness among aging elderly men. The highest incidence rates of prostate cancer are in men aged 70 – 80 years. Also, prostate cancer is the 3rdmost common cause of death due to cancer in men aged 80 years and above. It was also stated that, 41% of men between 75–84 years die of prostate cancer.
Symptoms of Prostate Problems include the following:
- Nocturia – need to urinate several times in the night
- Difficulty in completely emptying the bladder
- The urgent need to urinate every now and then
- Difficulty in urinating
- Dribbling at the end of urination
- A weak stream of urine
When symptoms begin affecting the quality of life for your loved one, then treatment is necessary. There are many treatment options available. Which have proved to effectively manage all the symptoms and thereby improve the quality of life. The several treatment methodsavailable for BPH include:
- Watchful waiting
- Minimal invasive therapy
- Surgical procedure
The kind of treatment that can help purely depends on the age of the patient and the severity of the symptoms. This is because, in elderly individuals, surgery is not always considered. For them, either watchful waiting or medications, is often the choice of treatment.
Lifestyle and Home Remedies
Men can also consider lifestyle and home remedies for controlling the symptoms of a BPH. Caregivers can consider the following home remedies, to help their elderly patients manage BPH:
- Avoid drinkings too much of fluids in the late evening. This will help in limiting the number of trips to the bathroom in the night.
- Do not delay your visit to the bathroom. Go when you first feel the urge to urinate. Delaying the bathroom visits, can over stretch the bladder muscles and cause damage.
- A healthy diet is the key to healthy living and also prevents obesity. Obesity can be one of the major causes of an enlarged prostate.
- Limit caffeinated drinks throughout the day. Caffeinated drinks can not only increase the urine production. But they also irritate the bladder.
- Avoid or limit the intake of anti-histamines and decongestants taken when you have a cough, cold or allergy. These drugs show to stiffen the muscle bands that surround the urethra, making it difficult to urinate.
- Staying active also helps in eliminating urine problems. Even if you have an enlarged prostate. A small amount of exercise each day, can make a large difference.
- Scheduling your bathroom visits, can also help in retraining the bladder. For example, you need to try and urinate say every 3 – 4 hours during the day. This will be helpful for those, who have increased frequency and urge to urinate several times in a day.
- Practice the method of double voiding. For this, you need to urinate and again urinate a few moments later. This will help in completely emptying your bladder.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
Experts recommend that, the treatment of prostate cancer should depend on the health status of the elderly and not on the age. This further implies that, elderly who are fit, should receive the same kind of treatment as that of younger patients with prostate cancer. The various types of treatment methods available for treating prostate cancer include:
- Prostate surgery – To remove the prostate gland.
- Radiation therapy – Destroying the cancerous cells with the help of the radiation beam.
- Chemotherapy: Therapy that destroys the cancerous cells with the drugs.
- Hormone therapy – Is a therapy that targets the male sex hormones.
Many a times, a combination of treatments can help. Like, after surgery, the elderly are also subjected to treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. with the aim of completely eliminating the cancer from the body.
Steps to better prostate health
Prostate disease, whether it is non-cancerous or cancerous, can make the life of our elderly loved ones very difficult. Their caregivers, can also have a hard time managing their symptoms and other side effects of treatment. Here is a detailed list, that describes some of the common stepsthat can help for a better prostate health:
- Exercise. As always exercise stands to be one of the greatest factors that can help in maintaining a good prostate health. By exercising regularly, men can maintain a healthy weight. Which in turn would help keep their prostate problems under check. Various studies, have proven the fact that, vigorous forms of exercises, can do a lot in improving prostate diseases. Several studies, have proven the fact, when overweight men, made efforts to lose weight through exercising. It also helps in reducing the prostate size. Making a difference in reducing their chances of suffering from urinary symptoms as well as prostate cancer.
- Herbal teas. Research have suggested that drinking herbal teas does wonders in reducing the risk of getting prostate diseases. As it is important to maintain a safe distance from caffeinated drinks, to prevent irritating the prostate gland, elderly men should always opt for green and hibiscus tea.
- Avoid stress. This is yet another major factor. It has a large contribution towards development of prostate problems. Stress can have a negative impact on the prostate health of elderly men. So, caregivers should make an efforts in helping to practice ways to reduce their stress. Moreover, stress also has a negative impact on the immune system. Which in turn increases their chances of suffering from frequent infections. All these factors in conjugation, can affect the prostate health of elderly men.
- Healthy diet. This can be a lot of help, when it comes to maintaining a good prostate health. There are various foods, that can be prostate friendly. Some are: fruits, vegetables, nuts, avocados and olives. Including these in the diet, can have a positive impact on the prostate health of elderly men. The best diet for eldlery men with prostate problems, is the one that is low in sugar, saturated fats as well as processed foods. A fish and plant based diet can be the best, to keep prostate diseases at bay.
Living your best life can always help avoid prostate problems. All the above mentioned tips are sure to be of great help for all elderly men fighting prostate diseases. For more information, check out this post on the bladder.