Chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and obesity are common in seniors with approximately 85% of those over 65 having at least one chronic health concern according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends implementing preventive measures such as lifestyle changes for those 50 and older to stop or improve the symptoms of chronic disease. Such efforts are particularly important, as only about 25% of older adults take action to prevent chronic diseases. With the right information, seniors can maintain a higher quality of life.
The CDC recommends adopting the following lifestyle changes to your routine to avoid chronic conditions:
- Get regular health screenings
- Eat healthy
- Stop smoking
- Limit alcohol intake
- Get enough sleep
For diabetes and cancer, some of the first steps include regular screenings. For those with prediabetes conditions, there are programs to help educate them about prevention and lifestyle changes such as changing diet and implementing an exercise plan. Identifying cancer can lead to better outcomes over time in the treatment of the disease.
For those who are obese, losing just 5% to 7% of body weight can prevent diabetes. Some of the recommendations for eating healthier while maintaining an active lifestyle can lead to other health benefits too. Joining community programs to help improve weight loss success is one of many ways of decreasing the risk of more serious chronic diseases.
Other conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, can be detected early with actions taken to stop the progression into heart disease. Changing your diet and improving cardiovascular health through exercise is effective against chronic disease. With more than one-third of the adult population suffering from chronic heart disease, it is essential to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep.
Quitting smoking can lower the risk of lung disease and cancer. The CDC reports that about 1 in 10 seniors smoke cigarettes and overall, smokers live about 10 years less than nonsmokers. There are many programs to help in stopping smoking within the community, and you can always work with your doctor to create a plan to stop smoking.
Drinking alcohol can have a negative impact on health. A recent New York University study found that 10% of seniors aged 65 and older are binge drinkers. Binge drinking can lead to worsening of health issues, increase risks for falls and damage the liver. Choosing to drink in moderation and avoiding binge drinking can have a positive impact on health and decrease the chance of physical injuries from falls as well as protect against heart and liver disease.
If you are at risk for a chronic disease or have been diagnosed with one, quitting smoking, eating better, exercising more, and limiting alcohol can lead to better health outcomes and happier life. With just a few lifestyle-changing strategies, you can improve your health.
If you are struggling to meet the needs of an elderly loved one during a chronic health condition or disability, your family may benefit from a Life Care Plan and Care Coordinator. Contact us today to make sure your loved one gets the care they deserve.