Managing Chronic Conditions a Key to Healthier Aging

Many older Americans live healthy and productive lives. However, others struggle with health and safety concerns that limit their daily activities and social interaction.

Approximately 80% of older adults have at least one chronic disease, such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or kidney disease (CDC, 2017). Chronic diseases can lead to activity limitations, disability, and early death if they are not managed properly. Adults with kidney disease may face an increased risk of disability and loss of independence because they are likely to have other co-occurring health conditions, particularly diabetes and high blood pressure. Managing multiple conditions can be a challenge.

Fortunately, help is available through in-person and online self-management education workshops. Self-management enables and encourages people with ongoing health conditions to take a more proactive role in managing their health and well-being. Research shows that when self-management is practiced regularly as a way of life, it can lead to better health outcomes and improved quality of life. Self-management is particularly important for adults with more than one chronic health condition.

Benefits of attending a self-management education workshop include:

  • Less pain and fatigue
  • Greater confidence in managing one’s health
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Improved medication management
  • Better communication with health care providers
  • Fewer emergency room visits and days in the hospital

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is working in partnership with the U.S. Administration for Community Living/Administration on Aging, Stanford University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local aging and public health organizations to increase access to and use of self-management education workshops. NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging works with partners to provide resources, information, and advocacy to help older adults stay healthy. NCOA’s overarching goal is to improve the health and economic wellbeing of 10 million older adults by 2020.

Whether you have kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or another chronic health condition, NCOA encourages you to enroll in a self-management education workshop. Caregivers who are supporting someone with a chronic health condition can also benefit from attending.


About the Author(s)

Cora Plass

Cora Plass, MSW, LISW, is the Senior Director of the Chronic Disease Self-Management Education Resource Center at the National Council on Aging (NCOA).  Previously, she served as the Director of Healthy Aging at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.  She has more than 30 years of experience in aging, public health and health care.

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