If you have been diagnosed with a chronic condition, the best thing you can do is make changes that put you in control of managing the disease — versus the disease managing you.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 85% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition and 60% have at least two chronic conditions. But these simple lifestyle changes can give you a longer, healthier life:
- Eating healthier
- Exercising more
- Losing weight
- Stopping smoking
- Taking medications as prescribed
- Monitoring data
Engage in life: Did you know that it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic? Don’t let this list of lifestyle changes overwhelm you — you don’t need to tackle them all at once. Choose one thing to tackle every day until it becomes a habit. Then you can move on to the next!
Gift yourself with persistence and patience. Invite family and friends to keep you accountable. And learn all you can about your disease, symptoms, and impact. These things will put you in a better position to stick with healthy changes and take control of your disease.
Depending on the diagnosis of your chronic condition, it’s helpful to plan now whether you want the most aggressive care or not. This keeps you in control of your end-of-life wishes and saves your loved ones from confusion and anguish in the future. Visit TroveStreet’s Documenting Wishes wisdom article for more information.
Sex and Older Adults
Contrary to common myths, many older adults are sexually active. With people living longer, having better health, meeting people online, and being more open about sexuality, older people want to continue this form of intimacy and pleasure.
It’s worth nothing that older adults are more susceptible to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than younger adults. All types of sex (oral, vaginal, and anal) can spread STIs so it is important to practice safe sex. It’s okay to ask your partner about their sexual background and to check private areas for sores, discharges, or odors. You and your partner may want to be tested for HIV and STIs beforehand, especially because you could have an STI and not know it. Using a water-based lubricant is best, especially when using a condom.
Your healthcare provider is the best source to help you navigate common concerns with sex as an older adult, like vaginal dryness and erectile dysfunction.
Incontinence: What to Know When You Can’t Wait to Go
Your bladder does two things: stores and empties urine. When something goes wrong with the store function of the bladder, you may experience symptoms of urgency, frequency, and stress incontinence. Depending on the number of times you go during the day and night, your quality of life might be significantly impacted by incontinence.
If you are going to the bathroom more than 13 times a day or getting up more than 2 times a night, you are not alone! Nearly half of Americans age 65 and older have incontinence. Don’t be too proud to seek advice from your healthcare provider about issues of incontinence. Too often people let this condition prevent them from visiting the places and doing the things that bring them joy.
Find the joy: Don’t let chronic health conditions steal your joy! You are in control of your thoughts and attitude. Your physical condition does not define your worth.
TroveStreet is Here to Help
If you haven’t already, create an online profile with TroveStreet where you can jot down things you want to keep handy based on what you read or save this article for easy access. TroveStreet offers a Quick-Start Planning Tool with four questions to facilitate your planning. If you have questions or want to connect with a Planning Navigator, call TroveStreet at 717-363-1129.