Chronic Conditions Common in Seniors

As people age, the risk of developing chronic conditions rises. Life expectancy rates have increased over the past two decades, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). Managing your lifestyle, such as diet, sleep schedule and taking the right preventative steps can keep you healthy over 65. Below are some of the most common chronic conditions seniors are living with today.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people over 65. This chronic condition affects more men than women. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are risk factors, which are common problems for seniors. These also increase your chances of suffering from a stroke. Checking your blood pressure and cholesterol regularly, eating a well balanced diet and exercising lowers your risk for developing heart disease.


Lung, colon, stomach, breast and prostate cancer are some of the most common cancers prevalent in older adults. The CDC reports 21% of women and 28% of men over the age of 65 are living with cancer. Some cancers are not preventable, however, many can be detected early and treated. Lifestyle choices, such as not smoking and wearing sunscreen, can decrease your chances of developing certain cancers. It is important for older adults to get regular screenings such as mammograms, skin checks and colonoscopies.


The chronic condition diabetes affects about 25% of seniors, and is a significant risk to their health. Seniors are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to inactivity and weight gain. Diabetes is relatively easy to detect early by blood tests and checking blood sugar levels. Furthermore, type 2 can be managed through physical activity, insulin, diet, and blood sugar medication.

Chronic Respiratory Disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema are examples of chronic lower respiratory diseases. These types of diseases are 3rd in line for the most common causes of death in people over 65. Living with one of these makes you more vulnerable to infections such as pneumonia, which can be deadly to seniors. Medication, using oxygen and getting lung function tests regularly can manage lower respiratory disease and improve your quality of life.


Although not as deadly as the above listed chronic conditions, arthritis is a painful disease that can inhibit everyday life. This raises the chances of developing additional health concerns that are spurred from inactivity. Arthritis risk increases as we age, and is more prevalent in women than in men. The CDC estimates, “Of persons ages 65 or older, 49.6% ever reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis”. While there is no cure, there are pain management techniques for arthritis, such as heat and cold therapies.

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