Top 10 Chronic Conditions for Seniors and Tips to Manage or Prevent Them

managing chronic disease

Many seniors suffer from debilitating chronic conditions, and some seniors have to manage more than one chronic condition. The combined effects of family history, age, and gender make it difficult for any senior to avoid acquiring one or more on-going conditions.  

How do these conditions impact senior health? Managing a chronic condition can be stressful. You might experience frustrating day-to-day symptoms that affect your quality of life. Chronic conditions can also slow down recovery from other injuries and illnesses, including falls.

However, you can use strategies to manage your chronic condition and boost your quality of life. Take control of your health by implementing some of the recommended lifestyle changes below.

Chronic Kidney Disease 

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the gradual loss of kidney function. The kidneys filter waste out of the blood. Once the kidneys are damaged, they can no longer filter blood effectively. CKD includes all stages of kidney damage, from Stage 1 (very mild damage) to Stage 5 (complete kidney failure). This condition puts seniors at adverse risk of having kidney failure or heart disease. You can prevent and manage CKD with the following strategies:

  • Visit your doctor for regular screenings. Stay on top of your kidney health by attending your doctor appointments and undergoing screenings. 
  • Take prescribed medications in order to reduce symptoms of CKD. 
  • Learn about what impacts your kidney. High blood pressure and diabetes both increase the risk of kidney damage. If you can prevent those diseases, you are also protecting your kidney health. 


Seniors often suffer from high rates of depression and anxiety. Depression is not a normal part of the aging experience. You should see a medical professional if you are experiencing fatigue, sadness, hopelessness, changes in your appetite, or the urge to withdraw. Along with a treatment plan from a professional, you can help manage symptoms of depression with these tips:

  • Exercise regularly. Whether it’s a daily walk with an On-the-Go Wrist Watch Medical Alert + GPS + Pedometer or exercise classes at your local community center, a fitness regimen can help boost your mental health. 
  • Reduce stress. Cultivate an everyday mindfulness routine or try quiet time in prayer. You might also consider spending time with loved ones to decompress from stressful feelings.
  • Discuss options with your doctor. If you think you might have depression, visit your doctor to discuss a treatment plan that works for you. Some people with depression find success with therapy appointments or antidepressant prescriptions. 

Heart Failure

If you are experiencing heart failure, you might feel nauseous, disoriented, fatigued, or lightheaded. Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump blood and oxygen to other organs. The heart could increase muscle mass, grow larger, or pump faster to try and deliver the necessary blood and oxygen. You can help prevent heart failure by reducing your chances of developing hypertension and coronary heart disease. Read more about those conditions below. 


Hypertension, or prolonged high blood pressure, is an extremely common chronic condition in seniors. Blood pressure normally fluctuates throughout the day, but hypertension indicates the presence of consistently high blood pressure. 

Many people develop hypertension without knowing it. Hypertension can have serious health implications. It causes the heart to work overtime, which puts people with hypertension at risk of having heart attacks and strokes. You can use the following tactics to reduce your risk and/or prevent symptoms of hypertension: 

  • Exercise regularly. Attend an outdoor tai chi session or meet a friend for a leisurely stroll with an On-the-Go medical alert system. Try to add in more rigorous exercise days, as well. 
  • Reduce your alcohol and salt intake. Both of these items can increase your blood pressure. Keep an eye on your diet to limit upticks in your blood pressure readings.
  • Reduce stress. This could look different for everyone. Integrate activities into your day that help you feel calmer. 

Ischemic Heart Disease

Ischemic heart disease, also called coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease, occurs when plaque builds up and restricts access to the arteries around the heart. Once plaque blocks or narrows these arteries, oxygen has a more difficult time making it to the heart. Ischemic heart disease can ultimately lead to a heart attack, angina, or blood clots[1]. You can help prevent ischemic heart disease with these lifestyle changes:

  • Eat heart-healthy foods. You’ll want to target foods high in fiber, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Reduce your intake of foods with saturated fats, trans fats, salt, and sugar. 
  • Use healthy stress relievers. Sometimes, stress makes you want to overeat, drink alcohol, or spend hours watching television. Channel your stress into activities that can help your heart, including meditation, exercise, and socializing. 
  • Quit smoking. When you smoke, you raise your risk of having a heart attack. Stay away from secondhand smoke as much as possible, too. 

High Cholesterol

Your body needs cholesterol in order to create healthy cells. However, when you have high cholesterol, it means that your body has the potential to develop fatty deposits. These deposits can restrict blood flow in the arteries. Your doctor can detect high cholesterol using a blood lab test. In order to prevent high cholesterol, try some of these tips:

  • Follow a heart-healthy diet. You should incorporate foods with omega-3 fatty acids, as well as foods with soluble fiber and whey protein. 
  • Exercise frequently. Regular physical activity can increase your good cholesterol. Optimally, you should engage in light exercise 30 minutes at a time, five days per week. Grab an On-the-Go + Fall Detection medical alert system and hit a local trail or power-walk around the mall to lower your cholesterol!
  • Check with your doctor about a prescription. Sometimes, lifestyle changes aren’t enough to treat high cholesterol. In this case, you would take medication to help lower your cholesterol. 


Arthritis is tenderness and swelling in one or more joints. People with arthritis experience varying levels of stiffness and joint pain. These symptoms usually progress as you age, which means seniors are at a risk for severe arthritis pain. You can take certain precautions to delay and manage arthritis symptoms:

  • Reduce inflammation using omega-3 fatty acids. This type of polyunsaturated fat helps decrease inflammation in the body. You could eat more fish, seeds, nuts, or fortified eggs to increase omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. 
  • Try some exercises that increase flexibility. Pilates and stretching can help you reduce stiffness and risk of injury. Whether you practice at home or check out a class at your local gym or rec center, check out our In-Home + On-the-Go + Fall Detection medical alert system
  • Address infections right away. Viruses and bacteria can actually infect joints, causing arthritis to develop. 
  • Make sure your arms, legs, and back are fully supported. Making ergonomics a priority throughout the day can give your joints some much-needed relief.


Your risk of developing diabetes increases as you age. Diabetes is a condition in which your body cannot process blood glucose, or blood sugar. Either your body does not produce enough insulin, or your body is resistant to insulin. Though some cases of diabetes are genetic, there are several things you can do to prevent diabetes:

  • Watch your calorie intake. If you keep a sharp eye on your carbohydrate intake, you can help prevent diabetes.
  • Exercise regularly. Shoot for 2.5 hours per week, spread out over 4 or 5 days. This will help you control your blood glucose and prevent weight gain.
  • Talk with your doctor. Your doctor can determine if you have pre-diabetes, and what you should do to manage the condition. 

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a reference to several conditions that affect your ability to breathe, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema[2]. COPD causes breathing problems by causing chest tightness, coughing, and shortness of breath. You can prevent and delay COPD by avoiding smoking, including secondhand smoke. People who suffer from COPD should get pneumonia and flu vaccines per doctor recommendation. 

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease is one type of dementia. This condition induces memory loss and makes it hard to problem-solve. Though dementia is associated with old age, it is not part of the normal aging process. Certain lifestyle changes can help delay the onset of dementia:

  • Stay connected socially. Reach out to loved ones, join a pen pal program, or volunteer. All of these social activities will help you stay engaged[3].
  • Manage other health problems. Take the necessary medications and make necessary lifestyle changes for any potential co-morbidities, including diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol.
  • Get active. Integrate regular workouts into your daily routine. You will not only prevent symptoms of dementia, but also help manage other health conditions you might have.

A Medical Alert System Can Support Your Treatment Plan

As you age, you are at risk for several chronic conditions. Certain lifestyle changes can help you prevent chronic diseases altogether or manage symptoms. Falls induce the largest number of fatal and nonfatal injuries among seniors, including head trauma, hip fractures, and death.  A fall, even a small one, could impact your day-to-day life, especially if you suffer from a chronic condition.

A medical alert system can complement treatment plans for several chronic conditions. Should you fall or experience any type of medical incident, you will connect with a certified agent at one of Alert1’s 24/7 Command Centers. You will never pay fees for “false alarms” or multiple button pushes, and you’ll never face an emergency alone.

Whether you’re actively managing a chronic condition or just trying to stay healthy, a medical alert system can support your efforts and bring peace of mind.





[1] Committee on Social Security Cardiovascular Disability Criteria. 2010. Cardiovascular Disability: Updating the Social Security Listings – Ischemic Heart Disease. National Academies Press. Cardiovascular Disability: Updating the Social Security Listings – Ischemic Heart Disease.

[2] Pietrangelo, Ann. 2021, Jan. 22. Everything You Need to Know About Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Everything You Need to Know About Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

[3] Publisher. 2022, Feb. 4. Social Well-Being for Seniors: A Guide to Staying Connected and Making Friends. Social Well-Being for Seniors: A Guide to Staying Connected and Making Friends.