The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines chronic diseases as conditions that last one year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living, or both. These diseases affect approximately 6 out of every 10 Americans and include commonly heard-of conditions, like:
- Heart Disease
- Lung Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Kidney Disease
When diagnosed with a chronic condition, patients can feel the impact in many areas of their lives.
- Time – Patients newly diagnosed with chronic conditions may struggle to re-align their time as they learn to live with their condition. This may mean diabetes patients being more aware of when they are eating and doing more careful meal planning before trips to the grocery store. For cancer patients, it can mean more time spent in appointments and in treatment.
- Treatments – Patients can struggle to adjust to new treatment regimens. Stroke patients may struggle to be consistent with therapy, or those with kidney disease may have to adjust to dialysis.
- Finances – There is a financial impact to requiring ongoing medical care, like the cost of care, lost time at work or the inability to work, and purchasing home health items needed.
- Limitations – Adjusting to new limitations inability or mobility can be particularly difficult for patients. Some may need extra help and struggle with the loss of independence.
There are small steps patients can learn that will help them live their life with their disease, manage their condition, and improve their health. They can be coached to:
Advocate for Your Health
Ask doctors to explain anything you do not understand, and do not be afraid to ask questions.
Ask for a Second Opinion if You Need One
Getting a second opinion can give you more insight into your diagnosis and treatment options. It will also help you find a doctor who is the right fit for you. If you feel like you need one, ask for a second opinion.
Own Your Response
In the equation Event + Response = Outcome, you can control one piece – the response. Now that you have your diagnosis, it is time to consider how you will respond. Consider the changes to your lifestyle that can help you manage your condition. Think about the adjustments you can make that will ensure you are getting the treatment you need. If you need help managing how you respond, or if you struggle to accept the event or constantly worry about the outcome, consider seeking help from a mental health provider.
Ask for Help
Identify your support team. Do you have close friends who can help when you need it? Do you live close to family who can pitch in? Consider connecting with a Case Manager who can help walk you through your condition.
Take the time to learn about your condition. Ask your doctor questions, and investigate organizations dedicated to them, like the American Heart Association or the American Lung Association. This is another area where care management can help.
Commit to Healthy Habits
Make a commitment to making healthy decisions that can improve your condition and your overall health. Eat the right things, get some exercise, limit alcohol, and quit smoking.