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Senior Healthcare and the Rise of Chronic Illness

In 2019, over 54 million Americans were aged 65 and older. Even though life expectancy has greatly increased over the past few decades, millions of aging Americans live with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.

To learn more, check out the infographic below, created by Maryville University’s online Master of Science in Nursing and online bachelor’s in healthcare management (with its senior living management certificate) programs.

Infographic about senior healthcare and chronic illness.


Maryville University


State of Senior Healthcare in the U.S.

By 2060, there will be 95 million Americans aged 65 and older, comprising 23% of the population. As the senior population grows, so will its health challenges, which will fuel the demand for more healthcare workers.

Common Chronic Illnesses Among Seniors

Eighty percent of adults aged 65 and older are living with chronic illnesses, such as arthritis, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes. Seniors need to be aware of the risk factors and symptoms of common diseases and take preventive measures.


Thirty-one percent of seniors are living with arthritis. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and decreased range of motion. Certain risk factors, such as obesity, joint injuries, smoking, and frequent knee bending and squatting, as well as characteristics such as being older and female, increase the likelihood of developing arthritis.

Heart Disease

Twenty-nine percent of seniors have heart disease and experience symptoms that may include shortness of breath, chest pain, upper body pain, nausea, light-headedness, and cold sweats. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol consumption.


An estimated 70% of cancer deaths are in seniors, and 60% of new cancer diagnoses are in seniors. Risk factors include alcohol consumption, chronic inflammation, poor diet, immunosuppression, obesity, infectious agents, and tobacco. Symptoms vary greatly and include nausea, fatigue, fever, headaches, seizures, swelling, and vision and hearing changes.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Some 11% of seniors have Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease have difficulty completing familiar tasks, frequently confuse time or place, experience memory loss of recently learned information, have decreased or poor judgment, and often withdraw from work or social activities. Risk factors include age, family history, genetics, head injuries, heart disease, and diabetes.


Twenty-seven percent of seniors have diabetes and experience blurred vision, unexplained weight loss, irritability, increased thirst, extreme hunger, frequent urination, fatigue, frequent infections, and slow-healing sores.


Health Tips for Seniors

To maintain good health, seniors should eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and avoid high-fat, sugary, and processed foods. Exercising for just 30 minutes a day and quitting smoking are two other important keys to good health.

Seniors should visit the doctor for regular checkups and take preventive measures, such as screening for cancer. Knowing their family health histories and staying educated on the differences between normal aging and dementia could also help seniors reduce their risk of developing a chronic condition.1

At Residential Plaza we work proactively with our residents and their loved ones to prevent and manage chronic illness appropriately. If you want to learn more about our assisted living community visit:

1 Excerpt from the article: