For most older adults, good health ensures independence, security, and productivity as they age. Yet millions of Americans struggle every day with chronic health challenges that severely impact their quality of life.
Approximately 92% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and 77% have at least two. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) published a study documenting the 10 most common chronic conditions; high blood pressure, Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, heart disease, depression, arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, COPD and allied conditions, cancer, and stroke. If you're one of the nearly 120 million Americans living with a chronic health condition, your health problems may prevent you from enjoying everday activities. The steps that you can take to better manage chronic health problems are numerous and they can improve overall wellbeing, prevent such problems from getting worse, and reduce physical and emotional symptoms.
Another health related issue that affects the daily work lives of millions of Americans each year is the emotional toll and stress associated with having a loved one or family member diagnosed with a chronic health condition. When a loved one or family member needs your help, you have to provide for them, care for them and comfort them through their physical and emotional pain. This requires you to change your schedule to accomodate theirs.
What can you do to manage your chronic health condition better?
1) Lifestyle changes through a personal wellness plan: Starting and maintaining a healthy diet to reach a healthy weight, exercising 30 minutes per day, sleeping well, and managing stress. These can all help you lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels and reduce stress on your back and other joints.
2) Connect with the right medical specialist: The right specialist will have experience treating your health conditions. You'll receive the needed care and the proper guidance to manage your condition.
3) Be an active partner in your healthcare: A health advisor can educate you about available treatments so you can make the most informed decision about which treatement is be best suited to meet your goals.
4) Make sure your care is well coordinated: Many people have one, two or even three doctors. Confirm that each doctor is up-to-date with your current medical records. The simplest and most hassle-free way to secure your medical records and guarentee each doctor is up-to-date is by having an electronic medical record.
How can you help a loved one who has a chronic health condition?
Here are four of the most important lessons you must teach your loved one about their condition:
1) Their condition is serious. By emotionally expressing to your loved one that their health conditions are an important matter, he/she will be more susceptible to changing his/her lifestyle. The key is to convey emotion when discussing the severity of their condition. The more you show that you care, the more your loved one will want to change.
2) Their condition is essentially self-managed. Communicate to your loved one that he/she is the most important advocate when trying to manage their health. Creating a personal wellness plan and ensuring he/she sticks to the plan can truly make the difference.
3) Other options are available. There is rarely one perfect way to treat a condition. Patients need to understand the different treatment options available and should be encouraged to make a cost/benefit analysis of each. Only the patient can decide if the benefits are greater than the costs.
4) They can change their behaviour. Eating healthily and exercising daily can be difficult for patients at first, which places extra emphasis on loved ones to help. Go for a walk with them, accompany them to the grocery store and purchase healthy items, set goals and teach them through encouragement that significant behavioral changes can be made.
A health care provider can design a treatment plan to meet your specific needs. These strategies can help you regain a sense of control and improve your quality of life, which is something everyone deserves. If you or someone you love needs help managing a health condition, it is never too late to find the right help. Schedule an appointment and meet with some of Philadelphia's top healthcare physicians today. Let us help you enjoy your life again.