Top 5 Chronic Conditions Afflicting Older Adults - You're Not Alone!

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American seniors are suffering from more chronic conditions than ever. Not only that, we're suffering from multiple chronic conditions more than ever. These conditions are responsible for more deaths than any other cause.

What is a chronic condition you ask? It's a condition that is persistent, or long lasting, and typically comes with time. We surveyed the latest data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to come up with our analysis.

There is some good news. Many of the country's leading chronic conditions are the result of our own doing. Looked at another way, we can avoid, reduce and even reverse many of our most serious ailments through simple changes in exercise and diet.


TOP 5 CHRONIC CONDITIONS OF OLDER ADULTS - WORST AND BEST STATES

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure):
    - National percentage of 65+: 60%
    - Worst State: Alabama 64%
    - Best State: Montana 43%

  • Hyperlipidemia (high levels of fats in the blood)
    - National percentage of 65+: 50%
    - Worst State: Delaware 64%
    - Best State: Alaska 27%

  • Arthritis
    - National percentage of 65+: 35%
    - Worst State: Alabama 41%
    - Best State: Hawaii 22%

  • Ischemic Heart Disease (blocked arteries)
    - National percentage of 65+: 29%
    - Worst State: Florida 36%
    - Best State: Hawaii 19%

  • Diabetes
    - National percentage of 65+: 27%
    - Worst State: New York 32%
    - Best State: Colorado 18%

What can we learn from the data? First of all, we were shocked at the sheer number of seniors with these conditions. 50% or more of the over 65 population has high blood pressure or high levels of fat (cholesterol / triglycerides) in their blood system. Over one third of seniors have arthritis, heart disease or diabetes. The numbers are massive.

What's also interesting, is that of the top 5 chronic conditions, all of them are largely preventable if only we'd eat better and exercise more. High blood pressure, bad fats in our blood, blocked arteries and diabetes are largely lifestyle diseases.

Once you have them, they're no joke. That said, if you catch them early enough, they can be manageable, so stay on top of it with your doctor, before any of them send you to the hospital or worse. As we know, heart disease is responsible for 22% of all older adult deaths. The biggest contributors to heart disease are fats in your blood, blocked arteries and high blood pressure.


SIMPLE STRATEGY TO AVOID THE TOP CHRONIC CONDITIONS AFFLICTING OLDER ADULTS

So if you want to avoid high blood pressure, high fats in your bloodstream, diabetes and arthritis what should you do? For most of us, the scientific literature is pretty clear. Eat a healthy diet, get active, maintain a healthy weight, stop smoking and limit your alcohol consumption.

What's a healthy diet you ask? Choose from any one of the Mediterranean, DASH or MIND diets recommended by the NIH, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute or the CDC. These diets emphasize lots of grains, fruits, vegetables, fish and chicken, while minimizing fatty meats, full fat dairy, sweetened drinks, sweets and sodium.

In terms of exercise, the latest research suggests both anaerobic (strength training) and aerobic (cardio) exercise to avoid and improve on many of the top 5 chronic conditions (with your doctor's approval). For strength training it's suggested you exercise your major muscle groups at least twice per week (weight lifting / body weight / yoga / tai chi). For aerobic exercise, it's recommended to either do 150 minutes of moderate (quick paced walking) exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous (swimming / jogging / biking / dancing) exercise per week.

The great news is, that getting fit, eating well, quitting smoking and laying off the booze will also make us feel much better. Our minds will be sharper, moods sunnier and energy higher - who wouldn't want that?