Top tips for supporting a loved one with a chronic condition

Chronic conditions are those medical conditions that require ongoing medical attention and affect people’s daily activities; for example, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Supporting a loved one with a chronic condition can be tough on the whole family, as it often involves an entire lifestyle change in order to manage the condition. This is especially difficult if you have to assist your loved one in carrying out daily activities such as washing and housework. To help cope in this difficult situation, here are some top tips for supporting a loved one with a chronic condition.

Remove risk behaviors

Many chronic health conditions—type 2 diabetes and heart disease, for instance—are often caused by one or more of the following risk behaviors: lack of exercise, poor nutrition, excessive alcohol consumption, and tobacco use. To help get the chronic condition under control, it’s important that these behaviors are removed. However, doing this can be exceedingly difficult, as the aforementioned risk behaviors are often habits that require a lifestyle change in order to reset. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help with cutting out bad habits, such as quitting smoking, and embarking on an active lifestyle, and you should consult a medical professional for further advice. As well as helping to manage your loved one’s chronic condition, removing the risk behaviors has the added benefit of preventing other members of your family from developing associated health problems.

Encourage them to attend their Annual Wellness Visit

An Annual Wellness Visit is a self-reported questionnaire that helps to develop a personalized prevention plan for participating patients. As such, it is particularly useful for patients with chronic conditions as it can be used by both the patient and their medical providers when developing a chronic care management plan. With an increasing number of healthcare providers carrying out their Annual Wellness Visit online (therefore removing the need for patients to attend a healthcare facility) there is no excuse for missing this important medical assessment.

Research

It can understandably be overwhelming to hear that a person you love has been diagnosed with, for instance, dementia, and know that life is going to change permanently—potentially involving you becoming their main caregiver. However, you can retain a sense of control over the situation by keeping yourself informed about any treatments and appointments, and researching the condition as much as possible through reputable sources such as WebMD. Not only will this research help you to provide the best care possible for your loved one, but it could help you to reassure them about certain treatments and procedures.

Try to empathize as much as possible

Having a chronic condition can be a frustrating, isolating experience. Reaching out to your loved one with empathy and emotional support is just as important as supporting their physical needs. Ask them how they are feeling and take the time to listen to their answers, and give them the opportunity to vent their frustrations if necessary.

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