Did you know that six in ten Americans live with at least one chronic disease? For older adults, this number increases to 85%. Chronic conditions include diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, COPD, Alzheimer’s, and more.
Chronic diseases are a leading driver of health care costs in the United States—in fact, according to the CDC, “90% of the nation’s $3.5 trillion in health care expenditures are for people with chronic and mental conditions (CDC.gov).”
As medicine continues to advance, there are ways to treat and manage symptoms connected to these diseases, but unfortunately, there is currently no cure or vaccine.
The good news, though, is that most chronic diseases are preventable. By implementing healthy habits early in life, you can lower your risk of developing a chronic disease later on. Brickmont Assisted Living, with senior care communities throughout Georgia, encourages a healthy lifestyle and aims to share some steps to prevent chronic diseases and to promote overall health and well-being.
Avoid Tobacco Use
Cigarette smoking and tobacco use are the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. Smoking damages nearly every single organ and system in the body, and can cause not just one chronic disease, but multiple, including lung disease, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.
It’s one thing to avoid tobacco use altogether, but quitting after years of smoking is an entirely different challenge. Fortunately, there are countless in-person and online resources available for smoking cessation. Remember that quitting smoking, even for one day, is the first step in disease prevention and a healthy life.
It’s no surprise that eating a nutritious diet can aid in preventing chronic diseases. Diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and certain cancers are directly related to poor nutrition, and unfortunately, many Americans’ diets consist of processed foods, sugary drinks, excessive sodium, and saturated fats. By implementing a balanced and healthy diet into your life, you can not only prevent diseases but also lose weight, improve your mood, and have more energy.
In today’s world of misinformation and fad diets, it’s important to stick to the basics when it comes to eating healthy. Try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, while limiting sugary drinks and processed foods. Here are some examples of some highly nutritious foods:
- Sweet Potatoes
As with everything, eating healthier is a process, and you shouldn’t give up right away! Each week, try incorporating one healthy food while removing one unhealthy food.
Like eating well, physical activity can improve your overall health by helping you feel better, sleep better, and function better. It’s also a chronic disease preventative—reducing your risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and dementia.
Like eating well, however, there is a lot of misinformation and trends about the proper way to exercise and be active. The truth is: there is no proper way to be active. Any movement is good movement. Try to find an activity that you enjoy that gets your body moving and your heart rate up. This could be yoga, tennis, biking, dancing, water aerobics, or whatever you like to do. Find what works for you and implement it in your life and your schedule. You can even recruit a friend to join; this can make the time more enjoyable, and you can keep each other accountable.
Keep in mind that while exercising is beneficial, don’t overexert yourself or put yourself in danger. Always speak with your health care provider about what exercises you’ve been doing, and if there are any you should incorporate or avoid.
Know Your Family History
While tobacco use, a poor diet, and physical inactivity can be factors in chronic diseases, family history and genetics also play a part. If a close blood relative has or had heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, or another chronic disease, you might be at a higher risk.
It’s important to not only know your family health history but also to share this information with your health care provider. Together, you can come up with a plan to take steps and reduce your risk, which may include the disease preventatives above.
Your doctor may encourage you to get preventive health screenings if you are at higher risk for chronic disease. These tests, usually for those considered high-risk, aim to identify the presence of chronic disease before any symptoms occur. This can be valuable at finding conditions in their earliest stages when they are most likely to be treated.
Take Control of Your Health
While the prevalence of chronic diseases may seem intimidating, especially for older adults, there are several measures that you can take that can reduce your risk. The most effective disease preventatives include avoiding tobacco, eating healthy, and getting active. In addition, being aware of your family history can aid in early detection and treatment. By making your health a priority and implementing these habits into your life, you can prevent disease and live a healthy and intentional life.
Brickmont Assisted Living aims to be a powerful resource for senior health, wellness, and safety. We encourage you to share this blog with someone who may benefit, and to visit the Brickmont blog for more articles!