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Stay Healthy

Chronic Care

Chronic Disease
What Is Chronic Disease?
A chronic disease is a condition that affects your health and can be controlled, but not cured.  Allergies, Alzheimer’s, asthma, breast cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are examples of chronic diseases. Often patients have more than one chronic disease.  The good news is that many chronic diseases can be prevented, and if you have one, it can be effectively controlled.

How Do I Avoid a Chronic Disease?
To avoid a chronic disease or to make one easier to live with, start by making some lifestyle changes:

Eliminate all tobacco products
All tobacco products put you at a higher risk for chronic illness.  As soon as you stop using tobacco, your body begins to recover from its harmful effects.

Eat a heart-healthy diet
A heart-healthy diet is one that includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nonfat or low-fat dairy products, and lean meats, fish, and poultry.  Try to increase the amount of fiber and nutrients you eat, and limit your fat, calorie, and salt intake to a moderate amount.  Generally, nutritionists suggest that you should get about 30 percent of your calories from fat, preferably unsaturated fats like olive, canola, and vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, and peanuts. If you have other dietary restrictions, such as diabetes or low salt, try these tasty recipes.

Follow an appropriate exercise program
Exercise can help you prevent or cope with a health challenge.  The right exercise program can give you more energy and increases your strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination-plus it can help ease pain and improve your sleep and outlook.

Ask your doctor to help you find an exercise program that’s right for you. For specific tips on finding the right exercise for your condition, read Stay Fit When You Have a Health Challenge.

Learn to manage stress

Stress is part of life; it's our body's way of protecting us from a perceived threat. However if stress goes on for too long, it can accelerate the aging process. Some ways to cope with stress include taking care of yourself, getting regular exercise, sharing your feelings, and learning how to relax. Find out more about the effects of stress and how to ease it.

Get enough sleep

Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults: seven to nine hours per night, on average, says the National Institute of aging. If you're having trouble getting enough sleep at night, try napping for 20 to 30 minutes during the day and these other bedtime tips.