Preventing and Managing Chronic Medical Conditions

Do you find it hard to manage your chronic medical conditions? Just know you aren’t alone! According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), six in ten adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease,and four in ten adults have two or more.

Aging inherently poses a multitude of barriers and managing one’s chronic medical conditions is just one of them.

So, let’s jump right into it, but first, we must review some information on chronic medical conditions.

What is a chronic medical condition?

A chronic medical condition or chronic disease is defined broadly as conditions that last more than one year and require ongoing medical attention or the limitation of activities of daily living.

A few examples of chronic diseases include:

  • heart disease
  • chronic kidney disease
  • stroke
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • More

These examples are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.

Causes of chronic medical conditions:

Most chronic diseases are caused by 4 key risk behaviors:

  • Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Poor nutrition
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use and inadequate sleep

So the next question is, how do you avoid them?

Tips for Managing Medical Conditions:

  1. 1. Smoking Cessation.

    It is never too late to quit smoking. Smoking cessation lowers your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, lung disease, and premature death altogether. Even longtime smokers lower their risk for developing chronic conditions once they commit to quitting. Research shows that more than 60% of adults who’ve smoked cigarettes ever can quit.

    Be sure to speak with your doctor about the best options for you!

  2. 2. Eat Healthily.
    Eating healthy helps prevent, delay, and regulate heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.

    A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products is instrumental for supporting overall health.

    Check out our article, Eating Healthy on a Budget: The 3 C’s to uncover inexpensive tips for eating healthy.

  3. 3. Stay Active.

    Regular physical activity can help you prevent, delay, and manage chronic diseases. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, each week, adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (like brisk walking or gardening for at least 150 minutes a week (2.5 hours).

    Benefits include:

    • Improvements to brain health
    • Reduces risk of disease
    • Strengthens bones and muscles
    • Improves ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs)

  4. 4. Avoid Alcohol Abuse

    Over time, excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure, various cancers, heart disease, stroke, and liver disease. By not drinking too much, you can reduce these health risks.

    Excessive alcohol use includes:

    • Binge drinking is defined as consuming 4 or more glasses on occasion for a woman or 5 or more glasses on occasion for a man.
    • Heavy drinking is defined as 8 or more glasses per week for a woman or 15 or more glasses per week for a man.

    For more information on alcohol use, see What is a Standard Drink?

  5. 5. Get Good Sleep!
    Insufficient sleep has been linked to the development and poor management of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.

    Older adults should get at least 7-9 hours of sleep daily.

Many seniors have little-to-no help when it comes to navigating their physical and mental health, especially when family members live far away. To address this issue, St. Paul’s PACE includes a social work program that provides seniors in San Diego with the support they need while still giving them the independence they desire.

If you, or someone you know, would benefit from St. Paul’s PACE, please contact us at 1-833-PACENOW.

Last updated on August 23rd, 2022 at 8:08 am - St. Paul’s PACE website H5629 2102 - Approved on 3/23/2021

St. Paul's PACE