6 Steps to Coping With A Chronic Condition

If we have an accident and break a bone or have an appendicitis attack, usually there is an end to the pain. Your bone heals or your body heals after surgery. That’s not true for high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, or other chronic conditions. Sometimes you have a medical problem that will not go away. Nobody expects or plans to be diagnosed with a long-term condition, but it’s a fact of life for many us. It’s an emotional and complicated time, and you’ll eventually need to start being proactive about it. You’ll need to learn about the condition and how to manage it and the resulting symptoms. While much of this is specific to the illness, it doesn’t mean there aren’t a few strategies that anyone can use. They’ll take a bit of work and some adjustment, but they can be useful for almost anybody to use.

Six top strategies are recommended for this, no matter what health condition you’re experiencing.

How To Manage A Long-Term Health Condition: 9 Top Strategies

1. Make Your Doctor A Partner

Make your doctor your partner in care. Ask questions not only of the doctor but also the nurse or therapist you work with. Collect information and understand cause and effect. By being as informed about your condition as possible, you can take more of an active role in managing your illness. The medical professionals can assist you in developing your monitoring plan for daily living. Take responsibility for your care, and don’t leave everything to your doctor. One way to do this is to listen to your body and track its changes. If you have hypertension, learn to check your blood pressure. If your heart has rhythm problems, check your pulse. For heart failure, weigh yourself every day and chart your symptoms. This kind of home monitoring lets you spot potentially harmful changes before they bloom into real trouble.

In an ideal world, the specialists you see for your heart, your diabetes, and your arthritis would talk with each other every now and then about your medical care. In the real world, this doesn’t usually happen. A primary care physician can put the pieces together to make sure your treatments are good for the whole you. Make sure your primary care physician gets copies of all tests completed and discuss your conditions with them during your annual or semi-annual evaluation.

2. Manage Medications

If you have a complex medical condition, you could end up taking a few medications. These can be difficult to keep track of, especially if you have to take them at different times and on different days. I recommend getting a weekly pill organizer. They come in various sizes and are easy to set up. It’s obvious if I forget my morning pills – they’re still in the organizer.

I also include my supplements in organizer. When I went on a statin last spring, I was told to also take CO-Q10 daily for heart health. I’ve been taking tart cherry concentrate for a decade for arthritis as it helps reduce inflammation. Whatever your condition, looking into supplements that could help manage your symptoms. Delta 9 THC gummies and similar options can be great for nausea and similar symptoms, for example.

3. Beware Of Depression

Everyone thinks of the physical changes that come with a long-term condition, but you’ll also need to be aware of the mental impact it can have. After a serious diagnosis, it’s possible you could become depressed. In turn, this can have a significant impact on your life going forward. Dark, dreary moods plague a third or more of people with chronic diseases. Depression can keep you from taking important medications, seeing your doctor when you need to, or pursuing healthy habits.

Read up on the signs of depression. Let your doctor know if you think you’re depressed.

4. Make Lifestyle Changes

Part of the treatment for almost any chronic condition involves lifestyle changes. You know the ones we mean — losing weight, exercising more, stopping smoking, and eating a healthier diet. Don’t shelve these changes as they are vital to your self care. The people who make such changes are more likely to successfully manage a chronic condition than those who don’t. Investing the time and energy to make healthy changes usually pays handsome dividends, ranging from feeling better to living longer.

5. Get Family Involved

Dealing with a long-term condition doesn’t need to be isolating. You have friends and family who care about you, so it’s worth getting them involved after your diagnosis. The lifestyle changes you make to ease a chronic condition such as high cholesterol or heart disease are good for almost everyone. Instead of going it alone, invite family members or friends to join in with a diet lower in fat for instance.

The more they’re there to help you, the easier and more straightforward making these changes will be. They’ll be there to lean on whenever you need it, so don’t be afraid to lean on them.

6. Get Support

Being diagnosed with a long-term illness can feel like an isolating experience. You’ll be the one diagnosed with the condition, after all, so it’s easy to see why you might feel that way. Remember you’re not on your own with this. Your doctors and family will naturally be there for you, but you might also want to talk about your feelings with people in a similar situation. You could be surprised by the amount of support groups available for people with long-term conditions. It might be worth joining these if you’re struggling to come to terms with your condition. With these, you can talk to people who know exactly what you’re going through and get advice about it. You can better navigate the condition and your treatment by having these support groups to lean on.

How To Manage A Long-Term Health Condition: Wrapping Up

Learning how to manage a long-term health condition can be a confusing process. You’ll already be going through multiple emotions because of the diagnosis, and then there’s the physical implications the condition will come with. Making your doctor your care partner, getting your family involved, coordinating care, and similar strategies can all be helpful as you work toward managing your condition.

This is a collaborative post but all opinions are my own.

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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

I love to make new friends and get to know you.

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