Chronic Illness and Aging

Many people assume that chronic health problems are an inevitable part of aging. While it is true your likelihood of suffering from many diseases and health conditions does increase as you age, it is not necessarily a given. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “older adults who practice healthy behaviors, take advantage of clinical preventive services, and continue to engage with family and friends are more likely to remain healthy, live independently, and incur fewer health-related costs.”

Over 70% of older Americans are living with multiple chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. These persistent diseases can take their toll on a person in many ways, including a loss of independence, depression, lower quality of life, hospitalization, and a higher mortality rate. The financial cost of chronic conditions to individuals and the health care system each year is enormous. According to the National Council on Aging, over 90% of Medicare expenses are related to individuals dealing with chronic conditions. The good news is that there are proven ways to help aging Americans take charge of their health and avoid chronic disease. In an effort to help connect programs designed to help older Americans make healthier lifestyle choices to seniors in need, the National Council on Aging is partnering with the U.S. Administration on Community Living. The goal of the agreement is to make sure that the individuals suffering from chronic health conditions have access to the information and programs they need to manage and control their diseases.

The CDC is also working hard to promote the health of older Americans. Key areas of focus include encouraging seniors to utilize clinical preventative services such as immunizations and cancer screenings, helping older Americans adopt healthier lifestyles by incorporating more physical activity and smarter food choices into their daily regimen, and addressing mental health issues and cognitive impairment.

For more information, visit the National Council on Aging’s website. The CDC’s website is another great resource for information on chronic disease prevention and management.


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