Living with Chronic Illness

People are living longer than any other time in history. Once you make it to age 65, data suggests you can expect to live another 19 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 41% of people over 65 say their health is very good or excellent. Aging can have health challenges, in order to be among the healthy percentage you may have to carefully manage chronic conditions. Following are some conditions older people encounter with a few tips on how to manage them:


The CDC estimates that arthritis affects 49.7% of all adults over 65 and can cause chronic pain and lower quality of life. Because an active life with arthritis may initially be painful, you may be tempted to be sedentary. However activity along with other treatment can help improve your quality of life. It’s important to talk with your doctor and together determine a safe, personalized activity plan.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among adults 65 and over. As a chronic condition, heart disease affects 37% of men and 26% of women 65 and older. Older adults are more susceptible to high blood pressure and high cholesterol which are risk factors for developing heart disease. Exercise, eating well and getting a good night’s rest are basic tenets not only to help stave off heart disease, but for an overall healthy life.


Cancer is the second leading cause of death among people over age 65. Cancer affects 28% of men and 21% of women age 65 and over. Many types of cancer are treatable if caught early enough. You may not always be able to prevent cancer or completely eradicate it, but you can improve the quality of life by working with your medical team and following healthy living recommendations. Treatments for many types of cancer can weaken your body’s ability to fight off disease.

 Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias

One in nine people age 65 and over will have Alzheimer’s disease according the Alzheimer’s Association. Cognitive impairment has a significant impact on senior health, from issues of safety and self-care to the cost burden of care – whether care is in the home of a facility. Living a healthy life with Alzheimer’s involves examining the influences that impact your experience living with dementia. The health benefits associated with maintaining your physical, emotional, social, and spiritual health may improve your daily life.


Aging increases the chances of being affected by low bone mass or osteoporosis which increase the risk of a bone fracture or break. Non-impact physical activities can help prevent falls and fractures and should be done daily. Such exercises include balance exercises such as yoga and tai chi, posture exercises, and functional exercises for carrying out your daily activities in a safe manner to avoid the chance of a fall.


It is estimated that 25% of people ages 65 and older are living with diabetes. Diabetes can be identified and addressed early with simple blood test. The sooner you know that you have or are at risk for diabetes, the sooner you can start making changes to control the disease and improve your long-term health.

As we age we are more susceptible to chronic illness.  A person who is a caregiver is even more likely to experience chronic illness. This does not mean we can’t have a good quality of life. Talk with your doctor, follow their advice, and nurture your relationships. According to the CDC website, several of these chronic conditions can make you more susceptible to COVID-19. Discussing COVID-19 vaccine options with your physician is always a good idea—especially if you are living with a chronic illness.