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Planning Retirement Online

Guide to living with ill health in later life

Part 1 - Introduction

Lady being examined by doctorNo matter how well we have taken care of ourselves in the past, by the later stages of life some of us will be coping with illness. We might have to cope with one or two conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, pulmonary disease, cancer or Parkinson’s disease. Our sight and hearing are more likely to be impaired, and diabetes and dementia are on the increase. Currently there are an estimated 4 million older people in the UK who have a limiting long standing illness. This equates to 40% of all people over 65, so whatever our situation there are plenty of others in the same boat and who we can potentially talk to and learn from.

Guide to Ill Health - links

But it isn’t all doom and gloom. Thanks to early diagnosis, better treatments and living aids we are living longer and have fewer disabilities with these conditions than in the past.

Many of us still enjoy life and feel happy most days even if we have to live with recurring symptoms. In an Age UK survey 82% of older people said that in the last two weeks, they felt happy or contented either most days or every day. It seems that the older we become, the more likely we are to experience illness but we are also more likely to “count our blessings”.

You may already have looked at our Guide to staying fit and healthy in later life and in particular the final section of this about Taking Remedial Action if your health starts to deteriorate. This guide takes a deeper look at living with ill health in retirement and some of the ideas and resources available to us to help make the most of later life despite any condition we may have. It does not go into specific conditions but you will find some great articles on a vast array of conditions, ailments, treatments, reports, support organisations and interesting topics and viewpoints on our site.

We are also in a time of rapid strides in health research and breakthroughs so it’s well worth keeping an eye on what’s going on that might be relevant to us. Our own Healthwise each month highlights latest health news as of course does the national press. You might want to search for specific information or conditions using the site search facility at the top right of the home page (above the “free newsletter sign up box”). Also look at the different aspects of our Health section, especially the A-Z of Health.

This guide covers 5 different aspects of living with ill-health:

The Looking after Yourself page covers how illness can impact on our lifestyle. It looks at the importance of nutrition, keeping the immune system healthy, staying physically fit, and managing our day to day energy levels to give ourselves the best chance of recovery.

In the section on Understanding your condition we look at how you can keep up to date with the latest developments and how you can learn to be your own best expert on your condition. We have also included here understanding the impact of the changes you are going through on you and others in your life.

The next section on Managing tests, treatments and pain gives you tips on how to prepare for test results and to ensure you are up to date with treatments options. It acknowledges the impact pain has in our lives and looks at coping strategies and alternative approaches to pain management.

For many of us a big worry with illness is that we have to depend on others for care. In Independent Living we cover aids and adaptations that will help you with all aspects of living as well as how to get care for yourself at home and your options if you decide to move.

Finally, the Support page covers ill-health benefits and entitlements including transport, how to get help to adapt your home as well as eligibility for care costs.

Click to continue to the next section on: 'Looking after yourself'

Disclaimer: As with any health related information, you should consult your medical practitioner or other healthcare professional to ensure any item mentioned here, or on sites we link to, is relevant for you. Although we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of information we present we make no warranty as to its accuracy and we have no control over and make no warranty over information presented on sites we link to.

This Guide is written by Retirement Specialist Beth Campbell supported by members of the LaterLife team.  


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