Managing chronic illness
By definition, a chronic illness is one that has long-term effects and is persistent in nature. Chronic illnesses must be managed regularly and may include such conditions as asthma, arthritis, hypertension and depression, to name a few.
The key for individuals who are chronically ill is to effectively manage their conditions. Following are a few steps for patients and their caregivers, who may be positive influences in helping patients maintain an active lifestyle while managing chronic illness.
- Consult with your physician to help you identify your symptoms.
- Assemble a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals – including a nurse, social worker, caregiver, doctors, therapists – who will help you develop an individualized plan of care based on your illness and your lifestyle.
- Utilize available resources that will help treat the patient and manage the illness. Seek out community-based health and wellness courses that will provide important tips, tools and procedures.
- Research alternative treatments like massage, acupuncture and physiotherapy.
If you’re a caregiver, be sure to follow these simple guidelines that will help you be effective in your care:
- Educate yourself about your loved one’s illness
- Support your loved one over the course of your care. Be sure to validate their feelings.
- Listen. Ask questions about how your loved one is feeling, and really listen to the response.
- Be patient. Don’t make your loved one feel as if s/he is a burden to you.
- Be proactive. Look for ways to help your loved one take charge of his/her own treatment.
If you’re a patient:
- Get and stay connected to community support groups and educational courses. Being among others who are sharing a similar experience helps people feel that they are not alone.
- Eat healthfully. Consume lots of fruits and vegetables, switch to whole grains, drink a lot of water, and minimize sugar and salt intake.
- Get moving. Exercise can help ward off many symptoms.
- Manage your stress through breathing exercises, yoga or massage.