Can I Grow Old Without Chronic Disease?

Yaneke Wright-Lewis
November 6, 2022

Aging is not a sickness. This might come across as a shocking concept for many of us. That's because we are so used to the stories of older people having disabilities and illnesses that we may have subconsciously made aging and disease synonymous. But aging does not automatically equate with poor health.

What Are the Common Conditions Associated with Aging?

According to the World Health Organization, WHO, common health conditions associated with older age include:

  • hearing loss
  • cataracts and refractive errors
  • back and neck pain
  • osteoarthritis
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • diabetes
  • depression
  • dementia

The WHO also states that as people age, they are more likely to experience several of these conditions together.

Despite these facts, experts acknowledge that old age need not be marked by disease and disability. So how can you escape these staggering statistics? The answer lies in taking action, regardless of your age. 

How Can Older Adults Avoid Chronic Disease and Disability?

Not many know that older adults can have vibrant health, some even better than many younger people. In my youthful days, I was part of a team that guided some teenage boys in a mountain camp. As we struggled to walk, we came upon an old lady who outwalked us! She was obviously used to those mountains! She is an example that old age does not have to mean being feeble. 

Here are some preventive measures you can adopt now to offset the challenges of aging:

Healthy eating

This involves eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, reducing processed food intake, and drinking lots of fluids. 


Exercise helps to control your weight and to lower blood pressure. It also strengthens your muscles, so you are less likely to fall and will metabolize drugs better. Mild activities such as walking and gardening will do.

Brain training and learning new skills

Considerable memory loss is avoidable in aging. Brain training and learning something new can keep your memory sharp. Things like learning a new skill or activities like crossword puzzles, Jigsaw puzzles, and Scrabble are helpful. You can begin at any age, but the sooner you start, the earlier you'll get the benefits.

Going to church

Regular church attendance and optimism have been linked to longer, healthier lives - by as much as 1.8 to 3.1 years! Spirituality helps older people to cope with change and to find meaning in life. Churchgoing also provides a chance to get involved in the community for socialization and passing on knowledge and skills. 

It offers the opportunity to travel out of the home and to enjoy the arts, all of which are helpful to add meaning to life as you get older. Optimism is also proven to make you less likely to develop certain chronic conditions, such as heart disease.


Engaging in key activities and being part of a fellowship can help reduce the risk of chronic disease or injuries later in life. The good news is it's never too late to start, even if you are already advanced in age!


Aging Well

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10 Myths About Aging

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