Many believe that chronic diseases are a normal part of aging. That isn’t true for everyone. Statistically, 80 percent of individuals over the age of 65 have at one least chronic condition. More than 60 percent have two or more chronic diseases. You can take steps to be one of the 20 percent experiencing well-being as you age. If you do have a chronic illness, you can lessen the effect it has on your life. It’s a matter of reducing your risk factors, most of which are your lifestyle habits. Lifestyle habits are the daily choices you make
What Are the Top Ten Chronic Diseases in Seniors?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is in tenth place. COPD describes respiratory diseases such as emphysema. Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias are in the ninth position. COPD and dementia each affect about 11 percent of seniors. Dementia steals your cognitive abilities, and COPD steals your ability to breathe.
Tied at 14 percent each are depression, the eighth most common chronic disease in seniors, and heart failure as the seventh most common.
About 18 percent of the elderly experience chronic kidney disease. The primary causes of failing kidneys are diabetes and high blood pressure. Your kidneys and heart are closely connected, and problems in one often generate disease or failure in the other.
Adult-onset diabetes is the fifth most common chronic disease in seniors, affecting 27 percent of them. If not treated, it eventually leads to kidney and heart disease. A diagnosis of pre-diabetes gives you a chance to prevent the damage diabetes causes.
Heart disease earned fourth place by affecting 29 percent of seniors. Arthritis inflames the joints of 31 percent of mature adults, putting it in third place of common chronic diseases. High cholesterol clogs the arteries of 47 percent of seniors. Left untreated, it leads to heart disease.
Holding down the number one spot as the most common chronic disease in seniors is hypertension, or high blood pressure. It puts 58 percent of them at risk for strokes and heart attacks.
Chronic Disease in Seniors Is Preventable
There’s one health factor that’s beyond your control, and that is your genetic heritage. However, your genes are responsible for only minimal risk of disease. What’s more important is what you expose your body to day after day.
What You Breathe, Eat, and Do Determines Your Health
Your daily activities are your keys to good health or a cause of ill health. These are under your control.
Tobacco is Your Worst Enemy
Topping the list of risk factors leading to chronic disease is smoking. You’re probably familiar with the connection between lung cancer and smoking. But did you know that smoking also increases your risk of:
- Heart disease
Those are only a few of the deleterious effects of smoking. If you do only one thing to improve or maintain good health, stop smoking. There are smoking-cessation programs available from various sources.
Diet is More Than a Four-Letter Word
Eating nutritious food is an excellent way to prevent or manage chronic disease. Excess weight strains your heart, your joints, and your immune system. Additionally, poor eating habits raise your:
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar
Food can also affect mood in depressed or cognitively-impaired individuals. Seek the advice of a dietitian when necessary.
Couch Potatoes Watch Their Health Deteriorate
Exercise, even in moderate amounts, strengthens your immune system so that you can better resist disease. It also reduces stress, which is a significant risk factor for hypertension. If you’re stiff or have impaired mobility, a physical therapist can design gentle exercises that improve your flexibility and ability to move.
Treat yourself to quiet time daily and get enough sleep. Your body and your mind need R & R to remain in good working order.
Caring Healthcare has been providing the absolute best in-home healthcare in the Columbia, South Carolina area for twenty-three years. Whether you need in-home care for an elderly relative, a special needs child, or a family member with a disability, we will design a personalized plan for you. Talk to us to see how we can help you.