For many, it’s difficult to reach old age without developing some form of chronic illness. In fact, 80 percent of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 77 percent have two, according to the National Council on Aging.

There are four chronic diseases that cause almost two-thirds of all deaths each year, and they are highly prevalent in the senior population:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

Diabetes alone impacts up to 23 percent of the older population. An alarming 90 percent of Americans 55 and older are at risk for high blood pressure. In Americans 65 and older, there is an 11-fold increase in the risk of developing cancer, according to Johns Hopkins.

The good news is that through some lifestyle changes, you can reduce the chances of developing these chronic diseases and the impact that they have on seniors’ lives.

Steps for Reducing Chronic Illness

Eat Healthy – Eating more natural foods and less processed foods can help you to reduce the likelihood of developing a chronic illness. This means things like limiting processed sugars and increasing fruits and vegetables. It means replacing saturated and trans fats with healthier unsaturated omega 3-fatty acid sources, such as fish. It’s always good to reduce the amount of fast food meals and increase the number of home-cooked.

Maintain an Active Lifestyle – Regular physical activity can help to reduce the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colon and breast cancer, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Your physical exercise doesn’t have to be excruciating. For some, it may be as simple as going for a walk.

Quit Smoking – This can reduce your chances for many cancers, as well as heart disease and stroke.

Making simple, incremental changes can have a significant impact on reducing the chances that you’ll develop a chronic illness. They can also help you to manage any chronic illness to reduce the impact of the disease.