9 Most Common Causes Of Death In Seniors

Although life expectancy in the US has fallen by 1% from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.8 years in 2020, this may have little impact on the general picture of how much life expectancy among Americans has increased over the past century. At the onset of the 20th century, more people died before they reach 65 years of age. Today, however, about 75% percent of total deaths in the country are seniors. This means that more people get to enjoy senior life.

The dramatic change must have something to do with the advancement of health care and the vast improvement of people’s knowledge about their overall health. However, life expectancy can still be improved if seniors are more informed and health care is further improved to be able to reach out to all people. If this happens, the mortality rate among all age groups can be decreased some more.

Health risks among seniors increase as they get older. It may be inevitable to prevent all these risks as aging itself is the single biggest factor that contributes to the decline of health during old age. Knowing the most common causes of death among our elderly population may improve awareness to be able to map out measures and provide better protection to our seniors from life-threatening diseases and other risks.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is a general term for many conditions like heart attack, heart arrhythmia, and heart failure. When one has heart disease, it implies the growing inability of the heart to pump blood effectively to all parts of the body.

You can be more susceptible to develop heart disease if you have hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and obesity. Other factors, including smoking, lack of physical activity, improper diet, too much alcohol, and family history can also increase your risk.
Over the years, heart disease has been the #1 cause of death among seniors.


People increase their vulnerability to cancer as they age. This may be caused by the weakening of the immune system and a decrease in the production of enzymes that help to combat cancer-causing free radicals in the body. Add to that the decreased physical activity that can lead to obesity and lessening appetite of seniors which may deprive them of powerful antioxidants.

Cancer has many forms, like cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, lungs, liver, brain, and many more. Their morbidity rates vary but when all are added up, they constitute the second leading cause of death among seniors.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These conditions cause blockage of the airways and are manifested by breathing-related problems. Lifestyle changes like quitting smoking and avoiding sedentary life can help reduce the risk of seniors developing the condition.

Cerebrovascular Disease

Also more commonly termed as stroke, cerebrovascular disease is caused by a blockage, usually, a clot, which cuts off blood supply to some parts of your brain or hemorrhage. After-effects of a stroke include swallowing and speech difficulty and paralysis. High blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and smoking increase one’s risk of stroke.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a slowly progressive disease among seniors that can cause memory loss and personality changes which will ultimately result in the degradation of cognitive and physical functions. The disease itself will not kill you, but the complications will. Excellent caregiving can help avoid such complications.


Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of diabetes, a condition that is caused by increased blood glucose levels. Heart disease and stroke can increase your risk of diabetes. With this common disease among seniors, pneumonia and other respiratory conditions are more severe and wound healing maybe longer.

Pneumonia and Influenza

Seniors are more prone to get infected with pneumonia and influenza because of their weakened immune system and their risk can even increase with diabetes, heart disease, and other respiratory diseases. The good news is that we have anti-pneumococcal vaccines and anti-flu vaccines which you can avail of.


Seniors are more prone to falls and other accidents because of their impaired balance, decreased muscle strength, slower reflexes, and failing eyesight among others. Falls are the most common accidents involving seniors which can result in fractures, immobility, and even death.

Nephritis and Septicemia

Nephritis is inflammation of the kidneys which can result in renal failure, a condition that can cause toxin build-up in the blood. Septicemia or blood poisoning, on the other hand, is a serious bacterial infection of the bloodstream which can cause widespread infection and death.

While many conditions can cause death, what’s good is that most entries on this list are preventable. Lowering your risks to these conditions is doable. You only have to strive hard to achieve this goal. But seniors may not be able to do all the tasks. We, their loved ones, and their caregivers too must do our part.

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