National Chronic Disease Day, observed on July 10th, serves as a reminder for all of us to learn more about common chronic conditions and explore ways to prevent them. This is especially important for Seniors Helping Seniors® clients and caregivers.
There are plenty of ways that Heartland seniors can work towards a healthier and more active lifestyle, which can help lessen the severity of certain diseases. As always, Seniors Helping Seniors® in-home care services are a partner and resource for seniors who are committed to maintaining and improving health throughout their senior years.
Let’s explore a few of the most common chronic diseases and discuss some lifestyle changes that will help keep them in check.
4 Common Chronic Diseases
According to the CDC, chronic disease is defined as a condition that lasts a year or longer and/or requires ongoing medical attention. Research shows that 85% of adults 65 and older suffer from at least one chronic condition. Let’s dive a little deeper into four of the most common.
High Blood Pressure
Affecting 58% of seniors, high blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the body’s arteries stiffen. In turn, this forces blood pressure to increase. Typically, high blood pressure presents few, if any, noticeable symptoms, but it can lead to heart attack or stroke if left untreated.
The second most common chronic disease, high cholesterol, contributes to a hardening of the arteries, which can lead to reduced blood flow and cardiovascular complications. Forty-seven percent of seniors suffer from the condition and, though some cholesterol is needed for various bodily functions, excessive levels contribute to health problems like diabetes and stroke.
Next up, arthritis causes stiffness in the joints and affects 31% of seniors. The symptoms of arthritis may progress to severe, debilitating joint pain if left unmanaged and can affect nearly every part of the body, including hands, hips, and the lower back. Luckily, the disease’s symptoms can often be managed with a few lifestyle changes.
Twenty-nine percent of the senior population will deal with heart disease in their lifetime. This chronic disease encompasses a variety of conditions, such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, and arrhythmias. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can contribute to the condition as well.
While specific treatment and prevention options vary from disease to disease, there are a couple of lifestyle changes seniors can make to decrease the risk of chronic disease across the board.
Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent chronic issues. Not only does daily exercise help with weight management, which is essential in preventing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease, but staying active helps stave off arthritis as well.
According to the CDC, seniors should shoot for 30 minutes of exercise per day, five days a week. Make a date with a Seniors Helping Seniors® caregiver to take a walk, play a round of golf, or swim laps at the local pool. The work that is put in today will ensure a healthier tomorrow!
We all know that eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is also key to preventing health issues, including the ones we have discussed here. Follow the guidelines below to help ensure your or your senior loved one’s body is getting the nutrients needed to thrive!
- Choose foods without added sugar, sodium, and saturated fats.
- Get enough protein to maintain muscle mass.
- Eat the rainbow: Enjoy fruits and vegetables of all colors.
- Drink LOTS of water!
Consistency is key when it comes to keeping chronic diseases at bay and Seniors Helping Seniors® caregivers are committed to helping those we serve stay on track! Discuss your or your special senior’s needs with a caregiver or our Seniors Helping Seniors® office at 312-526-3666. Together, we can stay healthy, happy, and independent!