LEARNING OBJECTIVES

•What are the most important issues in chronic disease?

•What are some common chronic conditions across adulthood?

• How can people manage chronic conditions?

Moses is a 75-year-old African American man who worked as a lawyer all his life. Recently, he was diagnosed as having prostate cancer. Moses has heard about several treatment options, such as surgery and radiation therapy, and he is concerned about potential side effects, such as impotence. Moses wonders what he should do.

Every day, millions of older adults get up in the morning and face another day of dealing with chronic diseases such as diabetes and arthritis. Although medical advances are made every year, true cures for these conditions probably are not imminent. We considered some chronic diseases in Chapter 3 in the context of discussing age-related changes in major body systems; arthritis and car­diovascular disease were among them. In this sec­tion, we will consider other chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cancer. We will see that Moses’s concern about how to deal with his prostate cancer is one facing many men. As Moses will discover, in many situations there is no clear-cut “right” way to proceed. We will also examine some ways to help alleviate the effects of some chronic conditions and consider some ways in which we may be able to prevent such diseases or at least reduce our chances of getting them.