The First Steps of Chronic Disease Management
Chronic disease management can often become difficult for an individual struggling with a chronic disease. Especially for seniors, managing the pain and symptoms of a chronic disease often requires extra help and support. If you have a loved one struggling with a chronic disease, you may be wondering how you can help them, as well as how you can help find the professional support they need.
If you are taking the first steps to help a loved one manage their chronic disease, there are a few things you will want to consider.
Offering the Best Support Possible
The most important part of helping a senior with a chronic condition is to learn how to be supportive. It is important to understand what their physical needs are, as well as how you can be there for them emotionally.
Some ways you can offer the best support for someone with a chronic condition include:
- Learn about their condition – do some research about what their diagnosis is and how it affects them.
- Offer physical assistance – reach out and offer them help with getting around, chores, etc.
- Don’t be condescending – treat them with the same level of dignity and respect as anyone else.
- Be motivating – even when your loved one is struggling, stay positive for them. When their chronic disease poses a challenge, they will need extra motivation from you.
- Listen – do not assume how they might feel or what they want–actively listen to their needs and concerns.
- Stick with it – make sure they know you are committed to helping them for the long haul.
The Most Common Chronic Diseases
As stated before, learning about your loved one’s condition is extremely important. Once you know what their diagnosis is, start doing some research on symptoms and physical effects.
To start, you can begin to understand some of the more common chronic diseases that seniors face.
According to the National Council on Aging, some of the most common chronic diseases affecting seniors include (not in order):
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Heart disease
Of course, this wide variety of chronic diseases indicates that not everyone struggling with a chronic illness will have similar needs. Chronic diseases range widely in the way they affect people, and how regularly they might impact one’s life.
Utilizing Professional Caregiving Services
It is important to discern whether your loved one will need professional assistance in addition to your support. Are you planning on caring for your loved one on your own, keeping the care within your family, or hiring the help of a caregiving professional?
If your loved one’s condition requires a high level of attention, they will probably benefit from the help of a professional caregiver. Likewise, this can take some of the responsibility off of familial caregivers.
Caregiving services can range from periodic check-ins to around the clock care. Discussing a patient’s condition and assistance needs with a professional caregiver can help families discern how often they want to utilize their services.
Respite care is a good supplementary option for family members acting as primary caregivers. It provides short-time professional care in order to provide breaks for unpaid familial caregivers.
This type of care is often helpful for families who may not be able to afford around-the-clock care, or who want to be involved in caregiving but need an occasional break.
Special Care for Chronic Conditions
If you do decide to seek caregiving services, it is best to hire caregivers who are specially trained to manage chronic conditions. Many care providers train their caregivers to understand the challenges of each individual client’s particular conditions.
This sort of specialized non-medical care can help many seniors suffering from chronic conditions maintain a quality of life. The benefits of individualized chronic disease care include:
- Preventing hospital stays and re-admissions
- Helping clients maintain quality of life
- Monitoring conditions, dietary needs, and medication schedules
- Preventing condition exacerbation and unnecessary emergency care
- Promoting communication and collaboration between healthcare providers and facilities
Appreciating Your Time
Chronic disease management is an inherently difficult and emotional process. Many seniors struggle with the challenges of chronic illnesses, and it can affect their families as well. Throughout the difficulties, however, it is important to see the silver lining.
If you are helping a senior manage a chronic disease, you can have positive experiences too. Spending the time to selflessly provide your support is a greatly emotional event. You might find that caring for your loved one in this way brings you closer together.
Hopefully, both you and your loved one can both appreciate some of the time in which you spend in the caregiving process. Helping a senior with chronic disease management is not easy, but it can be fruitful.