Illnesses are classified as either acute or chronic. An acute illness lasts for a short period of time and may go away without any intervention, the assistance of medications, and/or surgery. Chronic illness is classified as an illness that recurs or persists for a long period of time and may last for a person's entire life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems. More than 1.7 million people die of a chronic disease each year in the United States. Additionally, approximately 80% of older adults have at least one chronic illness, and at least 50% have at least two. Unfortunately, chronic conditions may lead to pain and disability, which may result in a lower quality of life.
The list of chronic illnesses is extensive, but some examples include heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and AIDS. The healthcare costs of individuals with chronic diseases accounts for over 75 percent of the nation's medical care costs.
These illnesses may be improved through lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise, in addition to medication. Additionally, patients suffering from chronic conditions may need hospice care if they are not expected to live beyond six months. The goal of hospice care is to improve the patient's quality of life by treating the person rather than the disease.
Quality of life is a term used to describe different parts of an individual's health and well-being, including physical, mental, psychological, and social components. The goal of health assessment for older adults is to promote well-being.
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