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Senior Lifestyle

Living With Chronic Health Conditions: A Guide For Older Adults

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Worried about living with chronic health conditions forever? You’re in luck!

Recent evidence shows that 80% of adults aged 65 and older are diagnosed with at least one chronic condition in the United States, while 68% are diagnosed with two or more, the National Council on Aging reveals [1]. 

As a primary care physician, I’ve seen how managing multiple health conditions while simultaneously trying to optimize quality of life can be a challenge – and the 5 strategies I’ll offer you are tried and tested!

Get ready to learn all these insider secrets to managing your chronic health conditions today!

Key Takeaways

  • Take a proactive approach to your healthcare to manage chronic conditions and optimize your quality of life. 
  • Have a clear, simple, and manageable treatment plan. Overly complicated plans can lead to low adherence, impacting effectiveness.
  • Change your perspective about living with chronic health conditions and be more positive!

5 Secrets To Living With Chronic Health Conditions

Living with chronic health conditions doesn’t have to be daunting – You can improve your quality of life by changing your perspective, understanding your treatment options, navigating your healthcare coverage, simplifying your treatment plan, and adopting a proactive approach.

Let’s explore these five effective strategies in more detail!

Strategy #1: Change your perspective

Living with one or more chronic illnesses can be far from easy. 

Not only do you have to stay on top of your prescribed health program, but you may also be dealing with various mental and/or physical symptoms. 

It’s understandable to feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed at times. 

Fortunately, by working to change your perspective, you can feel more in control of your illness and improve your overall quality of life. 

For instance, making a list of your concerns and prioritizing them when you feel overwhelmed can be a good starting point.

As with anything, the best way to do it is by using a step-by-step approach. 

Now you may be wondering about treatment options. Let’s delve right into it…

Strategy #2 Understand your treatment options

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your health!

Take charge of your care and actively decide which treatment option is best for you. 

One way is to ask your doctor to talk you through all the treatment options available [3].

In addition, you can discuss the pros and cons of each treatment to help determine the right path for you. 

Downsides to certain medications, for example, may include new health issues or increased risk of disability. 

For best results, it’s imperative to ask how long it’s expected for each option to start showing results — in fact, some treatments may work faster than others. 

Similarly, it would be best if you let your doctor know the specific treatment outcomes you value most.

Lady consulting a doctor

So, for instance, perhaps you’re eager to remain as mobile and independent as possible as you age. 

You may value a treatment plan with few side effects in this case. It’s also helpful to discuss suitable non-medication treatment options where possible. 

By bringing your spouse, relative, or friend to your healthcare appointments, you can get their input in the decision-making process. 

Often, navigating the complexities of healthcare insurance can be overwhelming – let’s simplify it…

Strategy #3: Research your healthcare coverage options

Health insurance can cover the cost of your treatment plan, protect you from financial loss, and provide greater peace of mind, so it’s essential to research the options you qualify for.

Around 158 million Americans (almost half the population) are currently covered by a combination of Medicare and Medicaid [4].

 Medicare is federal health insurance available to those over 65 years old, as well as people with select disabilities [5]. 

After all, coverage is broken down into four different parts: hospital insurance, medical insurance, Medicare Advantage, and prescription drug coverage [5]. 

Medicaid, on the other hand, is a joint state and federal government program that provides healthcare coverage to people with low income. 

In addition, it covers various healthcare services, including prescription medication, home healthcare, doctor visits, hospital stays, and nursing home care. 

Now, depending on your circumstances and needs, qualifying for both Medicaid and Medicare and enjoying more comprehensive healthcare coverage is possible. 

For instance, if Medicare doesn’t cover some of the healthcare services you need, Medicaid may be able to pay for them instead.

But does a treatment plan need to be a Gordian knot? Nope – it can be simple (scroll on!)…

Strategy #4: Don’t settle for an overly complicated treatment plan

Past research has found that the more complex a treatment plan is, the less likely patients will stick to it.

 For example, one study found that when patients take thirteen or more pills daily, the adherence rate plummets to just 20% [6]. 

So, if your treatment plan is too complicated, don’t hesitate to tell your doctor it needs to be simplified.

 It’s also essential to clarify the instructions of your plan the moment you receive it – instructions should be as clear and straightforward as possible. 

As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. 

Knowing this, remember to tell your doctor if a treatment isn’t working or is causing unwanted side effects. 

Keep in mind, it’s entirely your choice whether you want to stop one treatment and/or start a different one.  

Managing one or more complex health problems as you age can be challenging. 

Next: let’s explore the wonders of lifestyle modifications in these conditions!

Strategy #5: Modify your lifestyle

The mental aspect of living with chronic health conditions is often overlooked but is equally important. 

To elaborate, living with a chronic illness can lead to emotional distress, including feelings of anxiety, depression, and frustration. 

One example is cognitive-behavioral therapy which can be very effective for chronic disease management. 

Not only does it teach you to identify negative thinking patterns, but it helps you introduce positive affirmations as well.

You also have the option of mindfulness-based therapies, including meditation and yoga.

seniors enjoying yoga

A growing body of research suggests that mindfulness can reduce stress and improve mental health, which, in turn, can improve physical health.

Fortunately, by taking a positive and proactive approach to your healthcare, you can effectively manage your conditions and optimize your quality of life as you age.

Before you scroll to the frequently asked questions, get ready for a concise summary of the main points here:

FAQs

1: What role does diet and exercise play in managing chronic health conditions? 

A healthy diet and regular exercise can enhance wellness, reduce symptoms, and improve resilience against disease.

2: Why is it important to understand my healthcare coverage options? 

Understanding your coverage helps ensure access to necessary treatments and can protect you from financial loss.

3: Why should I simplify my treatment plan? 

Simplified treatment plans increase adherence, making them more effective in managing your condition.

Conclusion

Living With Chronic Health Conditions can be difficult, but following my 5 strategies to success will make it a cakewalk!

For the best outcome, understand your treatment options and healthcare coverage, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and approach your situation positively. 

In fact, these strategies can help you live a fulfilling life despite your condition.

As always, If you found these tips helpful, share this article with others who might benefit – and leave me a comment to tell me how much you loved my article.

Until next time!

senior couple running at the park

Resources

1. The National Council on Aging [Internet]. ncoa.org. 2021. Available from: https://ncoa.org/article/the-top-10-most-common-chronic-conditions-in-older-adults

2. Policy BD-BBD-B is the communications manager for SH. Screening everyone 35 and older for chronic kidney disease would save lives [Internet]. News Center. 2023 [cited 2023 Jul 2]. Available from: https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2023/05/chronic-kidney-disease-screening.html

3. M.D RP. 3 Shocking Healthcare Statistics For 2023 [Internet]. Forbes. 2023 [cited 2023 Jul 2]. Available from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertpearl/2023/01/09/3-shocking-healthcare-statistics-for-2023/?sh=2523fce32860

4. Jakab J. Medicaid and Medicare for People With Disabilities | Atticus [Internet]. www.atticus.com. 2023 [cited 2023 Jul 2]. Available from: https://www.atticus.com/advice/general/a-guide-to-medicaid-and-medicare-for-people-with-disabilities

5. Martin LR, Williams SL, Haskard KB, Dimatteo MR. The challenge of patient adherence. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management [Internet]. 2005;1:189–99. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1661624/

About Author

Lamia A Kader, MD
Lamia A Kader is a Medical Doctor and a Medical Research Professional with a Ph.D. in Clinical Research. ISMMS, USA. She had enhanced her medical knowledge of medical devices and equipment development and innovation by attending clinical meetings, local national courses, journal clubs, and conferences, in addition to e-learning, subscribing to major medical journals and keeping an eye on latest trends in medicine and keeping an eye on clinical trials industry and healthcare marketing current trends. She had participated in several medical device innovation projects by conducting clinical research studies, developing clinical trial protocols, writing patient safety narratives and “Medical Device Risk Assessment Reports” to transform new medical technologies into real products that save and improve lives. Follow her on LINKEDIN. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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