happy family visiting According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 6 out of every 10 adults in the United States suffer from a chronic illness. As the leading cause of death and disability, these diseases contribute to $3.8 trillion in annual health care costs.

Illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes are some of the most common chronic diseases. These conditions can be difficult for seniors to manage, especially those who have limited mobility, cognitive impairment or additional health problems.

Here are a few tips on how to cope with chronic illness with age.

Understand Your Disease

Learning more about your condition can help patients get the necessary support. Talk to your doctor and do not be afraid to ask questions. A better understanding of what to expect from your symptoms may encourage more positive thinking as you attempt to take on new lifestyle changes.

Address Discomfort

Many of these diseases come with some level of physical discomfort, whether directly related to the illness itself or due to constant irritability, tension and fatigue. There are a few ways you can help ease these body aches and pains.

Start by incorporating a healthy diet into your daily routine. Providing your body the nutrients it needs to thrive can help promote the reversal or prevention of chronic diseases like diabetes. Per the CDC, a balanced diet to help prevent chronic disease includes:

  • Fruits
  • Veggies
  • Whole grains
  • Lean meats
  • Low-fat dairy products

More physical activity can help control your body weight, lower blood sugar and boost your energy levels! These factors can also help you regulate and manage your disease symptoms.

Make sure to talk with your doctor to determine how much physical activity is safe for you. Moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, is recommended for at least 150 minutes a week.

Manage Emotions

Developing a chronic illness can evoke many different emotions, from uncertainty about the future to worry about financial difficulties brought on by medical bills.

Dealing with this additional stress, anxiety and depression can be hard but it’s important to avoid negative coping mechanisms like substance abuse. Instead, try the following activities to take control of your feelings and mental health:

  • Journaling
  • Reading
  • Listening to music
  • Meditating

It can also be helpful to spend time with your close friends and family. Loneliness and isolation can exacerbate negative feelings.

Nurture Relationships

Regular social interaction can help with your confidence, mood and overall outlook on life.

When living with a chronic illness, having a solid support system is important. With limited energy and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, this can be a challenging task.

Make sure to keep communicating with friends and family members. Rather than bottling up your emotions, open up about the challenges you are currently facing and how these changes are affecting your everyday life.

You can also have these discussions in a professional setting. At Avon Health Center, we offer supportive counseling and education to our residents and their families. Whether it’s emotional support or family meetings, our professionals can help you navigate the emotions that come with a chronic illness.
For more information on chronic disease management or to learn about our services, contact Avon Health Center.