Chronic diseases are long-term conditions that affect people of all ages but are more common among older adults. Diseases like arthritis, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes are just a few examples. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), about 85% of seniors suffer from one chronic disease and 60% suffer from multiple chronic diseases. In fact, most chronic diseases are the leading cause of death among seniors in the US.
Fortunately, there are treatments available for different types of chronic diseases. Also, to reduce your risk of getting these diseases, it’s important to follow a healthy lifestyle and avoid vices that can harm your body.
Common Types of Chronic Diseases
There are different types of chronic diseases and below is the list of the most common types.
There are different types of arthritis, but the most common is OA or Osteoarthritis, which damages the joints causing inflammation and pain in the area. This is one of the most common diseases suffered by adults as they reach their 60s.
To prevent this from coming, older adults should regulate exercise, maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking, and be extra careful about getting joints injured.
This is another common cause of death among seniors. Heart diseases can range from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, and other conditions related to the heart.
To avoid these kinds of complications try to practice eating less fat, regulating a healthy weight, getting proper sleep, avoiding any vices, and staying physically active.
This condition happens when the blood vessel responsible for transferring nutrients and oxygen to the brain is blocked by a blood clot or ruptures. The best way to avoid this is to reduce cholesterol levels, avoid heavy drinking and smoking, as well as eat a well-balanced diet.
Diabetes is caused by too high glucose levels in the blood due to inadequate production of insulin. Insulin is also responsible for distributing glucose throughout your system, not enough of it will get glucose production out of control.
As the disease progresses, it then damages the eyes, kidneys, and heart causing other conditions like kidney disease, stroke, heart disease, or blindness.
Mental health should also be the same priority as physical health among seniors. The most common mental health illness among seniors is Alzheimer’s disease and it affects about 11% of older adults. The general term for other mental health illnesses experienced by older adults is Dementia.
These illnesses affect the ability to think rationally, remember, and solve problems that interfere with daily activities. Exercising your brain through puzzles and socializing might help reduce your risk of mental health diseases and even depression.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
This disease is characterized by gradual deterioration of the kidney that can cause other chronic illnesses like heart disease and kidney failure. This is very common among seniors affecting 18% of the senior citizens' population.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
This disease involves both emphysema and chronic bronchitis, making it hard for the patient to breathe. It also causes severe coughing and chest tightness. One of the leading causes of COPD is smoking and exposure to polluted air. That’s why it’s important to quit smoking and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke and polluted air.
Treatment and Care
Seniors are usually not knowledgeable about their chronic illness, that’s why it is important to educate them and share tips on how to manage and reduce the risk of the disease as early as possible. Below are some tips to help you understand your condition and know the medical treatments for it.
- Follow your doctor’s advice and listen carefully when discussing treatment plans. This will help you understand more of what the treatments will do to improve your condition.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your doctor may have already told you in brief what your condition is and what treatments to follow, but if you want to have a more in-depth understanding of the matter, it’s not a bad act to ask questions.
- Practice taking notes. This will help you keep track of your medications, dosage, and check-up schedules.
- Last but not least, always take your medications and adhere to any lifestyle changes your doctor tells you as it will help improve your condition and live a better quality of life.
Lower Your Risk of Chronic Diseases
Chronic diseases are caused by some long-term unhealthy practices, but changing these practices can help reduce your risk of getting one.
One of the most effective ways to prevent yourself from getting chronic disease is to don’t smoke if you still haven’t started yet. The government is also here to support you if you need help quitting smoking. Just call this number and help will come: 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Another effective way to reduce your risk of chronic disease is to regulate eating a healthy diet. A healthy diet is composed of high-fiber, nuts, beans, fruits, and vegetables while reducing red meats, junk foods, and fatty foods.
You can also eat your favorite calorie-rich foods once in a while so long as it’s not frequent and should be balanced with other healthy meals. Constantly practicing this will help prevent you from getting type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses.
Stay Physically Active
Exercise doesn’t only improve your cardiovascular health, but it also helps regulate your weight and cholesterol levels. Studies also revealed that physical activity and exercise also improve your brain health, thus reducing the risk of mental health illness or depression.
Doctors recommend spending at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week to reduce the risk of getting chronic diseases.
Get Regular Check-Ups
If you want to keep track of your health condition, it’s imperative to have regular visits to your doctor. This will help you and your doctor plan prevention techniques or catch the disease the earliest to provide treatment before it gets worse.
Avoid Excessive Alcohol Intake
Studies have proven that long-term and excessive alcohol drinking is one of the main causes of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. Although it’s acceptable to drink alcoholic drinks on special occasions, make sure to limit or completely cut it off your system.
Know Your Family History
Genetics most of the time plays a factor in you getting a chronic illness. Cancer, hypertension, and diabetes are just a few chronic diseases that can run in a family. That’s why it’s important to know your family history of chronic illnesses to help you and your doctor plan some prevention procedures and treatments to reduce your risk of getting it too.
Get Adequate Sleep
Sleep has always been an essential part of living. Not getting enough of it will affect our cognitive function and thinking. Getting enough sleep gives a ton of benefits not just to the brain but also to your overall health.
Studies revealed that people who don’t get enough sleep increase the risk of getting heart disease, diabetes, and depression, that’s why if you want to have a healthier lifestyle, make sure to have at least 7 hours of sleep daily.
As we get older, it becomes quite inevitable to get one or multiple chronic illnesses. The hassle comes when your quality of living is affected. Fortunately, there are practices you can do to reduce your risk of getting one like avoiding vices, eating healthy, getting regular sleep, regulating exercise, and attending check-ups.
Even if you are not suffering from any of the conditions mentioned yet, then it’s not a bad thing to follow the prevention tips mentioned. I hope that this article helped you have a better understanding of chronic diseases.