Health Coaching

How Health Coaches Can Support Older Adults with Chronic Health Conditions

As the famous saying goes, “age is just a number.” But when it comes to managing chronic conditions, that number can make a big difference.  

Older adults are more likely to experience multiple chronic health problems, which can significantly impact their daily lives and overall well-being.  

In this context, health coaching can be a valuable tool to support older clients with chronic conditions, helping them navigate the complexities of their health and stay engaged in their care.  

But what does it take to be an effective health coach for older adults with chronic health conditions? In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and challenges of supporting older clients with chronic conditions and provide practical tips for delivering high-quality support. 

A Bit of Context: How Common are Health Conditions among Older Adults?  

Chronic conditions, also known as non-communicable diseases, are health conditions that persist over time and are generally not curable. These conditions include, but are not limited to, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and hypertension. Chronic conditions are a significant health issue for older adults, because they are more likely to develop multiple chronic conditions as they age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 80% of adults aged 65 and older have at least one chronic condition, and 68% have two or more. This is compared to 40% of adults under 65 who are living with chronic health conditions.  

As years are added to a person’s life, their cells are more likely to experience DNA damage, and the quality control mechanisms natural to cells and tissues aren’t as effective. In a phenomenon called cellular aging, normal processes are more likely to break down and begin to lose their function, which may contribute to disease development, pain, and other issues.  

These chronic conditions can greatly impact an older adult’s quality of life, as well as their ability to live independently. Chronic conditions can limit an older adult’s mobility, cause pain and discomfort, and lead to other complications.  

As a result, older adults with chronic conditions often require significant support from healthcare professionals, family members, and other caregivers. Effective support is crucial for helping older adults with chronic conditions manage their health and maintain their independence, while also reducing the risk of complications and hospitalizations. Health coaching is one approach that has shown promise in providing this support. 

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Benefits of Health Coaching for Older Clients with Chronic Conditions 

Impact of Health Coaching on Older Adults’ Well-Being 

Health coaching has been shown to have a variety of positive impacts on the physical, emotional, and social well-being of older clients with chronic conditions. Here are some examples: 

Improved physical health 

Health coaching can help older clients with chronic conditions better manage their symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. Health coaches can work with clients to help develop personalized plans to implement physician guidance and achieve client goals, which can lead to improved physical health and greater functional ability

Enhanced emotional well-being 

Living with chronic conditions can be stressful and emotionally challenging, and health coaching can provide a supportive and empowering environment for clients to address these issues. Health coaches can use techniques such as motivational interviewing to help clients develop coping skills, manage stress, and improve their overall emotional well-being. 

Increased social connectedness 

Chronic conditions can be isolating, and many older adults with chronic conditions may feel disconnected from their communities. Health coaching can help to address this issue by providing a supportive and non-judgmental space for clients to discuss their experiences and connect with others. Health coaches can also help clients to identify and participate in social activities that can improve their sense of connection and belonging. 

Overall, health coaching can play an important role in helping older clients with chronic conditions improve their physical, emotional, and social well-being, and lead more fulfilling and independent lives. 

Health Coaching Strategies to Support Older Clients with Chronic Conditions 

Here are some examples of health coaching strategies that can be used to support older clients with chronic conditions: 

Goal Setting 

Health coaches can work with clients to set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). These goals can be related to various aspects of the client’s health, such as nutrition, exercise, medication management, and stress reduction. Setting achievable goals that are meaningful to the client can help them to stay motivated and engaged in their health. 


Health coaches can encourage clients to monitor their health-related behaviors and symptoms using tools such as food diaries, activity logs, and symptom trackers. Consider the advantages of voice recorders or notebooks for some older clients who do not feel comfortable with apps and computers. This can help clients to gain a better understanding of their health and make informed decisions about their care. 

Motivational Interviewing 

Motivational interviewing is a client-centered approach that can be used to help clients identify and overcome barriers to behavior change. Health coaches can use this technique to explore clients’ ambivalence about making changes to their health behaviors, and to help them find their own reasons for change. 

Education and Information Sharing 

Health coaches can provide clients with information about their chronic condition, treatment options, and self-management strategies. This can help clients to make informed decisions about their care and feel more confident in managing their condition. 

Supportive Accountability 

Health coaches can provide clients with accountability and support as they work towards their health goals. This can include regular check-ins, encouragement, and problem-solving support. By providing supportive accountability, health coaches can help clients to stay on track and feel motivated to make positive changes in their health. 

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