With life expectancies increasing, many people have more years to spend with friends and family. However, those years also come with changes to your physical condition and, often, your health. Chronic illnesses are common in older adults. Learning what to expect and how to manage chronic conditions can help you enjoy the best quality of life possible.
As you age, your chances of developing a chronic health condition increase. Estimates show that about 85% of older adults live with one chronic condition, while 60% are dealing with two or more chronic diseases. In addition to age, your family history can impact your risk of chronic conditions. These factors are out of your control. However, your lifestyle choices can also increase your chances of developing a health condition. Things like your diet, activity level and whether you smoke can impact your health as you age.
Chronic conditions can affect all parts of your body, from your heart to your joints. Your risk factors, including your family history, can impact which chronic conditions you're more likely to have. Some common chronic health conditions that affect older adults include:
While these conditions are common, there are many other chronic conditions older adults might face. Each disease has different effects and treatment plans. Working closely with your doctor is essential when you're diagnosed with one or more chronic conditions.
The impact a chronic condition can have on you depends largely on the type of illness you have and the severity of the condition. For instance, mild arthritis might cause some slight discomfort, while severe arthritis can make it extremely painful to do even the most basic tasks.
Many chronic conditions affect you physically. You might slow down and have difficulty getting around. Some conditions make it difficult to breathe or be physically active. You might have a limited range of motion or decreased mobility. Having a chronic condition can make it difficult to live independently if you can't take care of yourself on your own.
A chronic condition impacts you physically and can affect your finances. Medicare or private health insurance often covers a large portion of your treatments, but you'll likely have out-of-pocket expenses that can add up.
You might not be able to avoid some chronic conditions, but you can make lifestyle changes that could help you prevent cancer, heart disease and other chronic conditions. Some tips for preventing chronic illnesses include:
While many chronic conditions can impact your daily activities, you can take steps to keep them from progressing. Visit your health care provider if you notice any suspicious or new symptoms to get a diagnosis quickly. Follow your doctor's recommendations for medications, therapy and other treatments to manage your symptoms and keep the conditions from getting worse. You might choose a specialist to manage your chronic condition. For instance, if you're diagnosed with heart disease, a cardiologist has the specialized knowledge to manage the disease properly.
You might also need mental health support with a chronic disease diagnosis. Some people experience depression or anxiety due to chronic illnesses. A therapist can help you process your feelings and teach you coping strategies. You might also join a support group for people who have your condition for moral support.
If your chronic condition makes it difficult to live independently, Bethesda Gardens Fort Worth can help. Our assisted living community provides individualized care, including assistance with daily personal care tasks. For people with memory loss, our memory care community provides a secure option with personalized support to allow as much independence as possible.
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