Serious mental illnesses (SMI) are conditions like schizophrenia, depression, or bipolar disorder. In past studies, people with SMI have reported more physical health problems than people without SMI. In particular, they may have a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese, as well as a higher risk of diabetes. According to some researchers, these problems may be caused by side effects of medications taken to treat SMI, but they could also be due to high-fat/low-fiber diets or a lack of exercise.
According to the U.S. Census, an estimated 80% of adults 65 and older have at least one chronic disease, and about half have at least two. Some of the most common chronic diseases include diabetes, heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and stroke. These conditions can lead to disabilities which may impact people’s ability to live, work, and participate independently in their communities. People can reduce the impact of these chronic diseases by engaging in healthy behaviors as they age.
As the population ages, many people are growing older with physical disabilities they were either born with or acquired when they were younger, such as muscular dystrophy (MD), multiple sclerosis (MS), or spinal cord injury (SCI). In the general population, people have a higher risk of developing chronic health problems such as heart disease and cancer as they get older. Older adults with physical disabilities may have an even higher risk of health problems than their peers without disabilities for various reasons, including limited mobility and barriers to healthcare.
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