The reality of dealing with numerous medical illnesses and complications is very real in this day and age. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 Americans has multiple chronic conditions, and this number becomes 3 in 4 over the age of sixty five! Those statistics are staggering, and really convey the growing number of chronically ill people in our country. These increases can be attributed to the increasing number of older adults, the increase in life expectancy, and an increase in lifestyle choices that contribute to illness. Smoking, an unhealthy diet, and a sedentary lifestyle can all lead to medical problems, and can exacerbate already existing illnesses. There are also certain medical conditions that lead to developing chronic problems that need to be treated with medication. Once someone is suffering from multiple medical issues they are more likely to have trouble with daily tasks and taking good care of themselves. We will explore some of the challenges that face individuals that suffer from multiple chronic conditions and what steps can be taken to help.
What Are Chronic Illnesses?
It is helpful to define what exactly we mean by a chronic illness. Everyone gets sick from time to time, and can even have an especially bad year with colds, flus, and infections. But chronic illnesses are defined as: “conditions that last a year or more and require ongoing care and/or limit activities of daily living, chronic conditions include hypertension, respiratory diseases, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and dementia, among others”. These conditions can severely impact quality of life, and can affect both the physical and mental health of the individual. The more health conditions you have, the more doctor’s appointments, hospitalizations, medical advice, medications, and tests you will have, and these can become confusing and overwhelming. Having a plan in place to deal with the challenges that someone with multiple chronic conditions faces is essential.
Your home should be a place of support and refuge, but for many individuals who suffer from multiple chronic conditions, their home can be a place of stress. For individuals who elect to stay in their own homes, modifications may need to be made to keep things safe. Eliminating stairs, utilizing grab bars, or moving furniture to make room for a wheelchair or walker may be necessary. A cleaning service could be helpful, especially to handle harder tasks such as vacuuming, mopping floors, or changing bedding. If caring for a home is too much, looking into options in assisted living or a nursing home may be the best choice. You want to be in a housing situation that will be able to support the needs you have when managing multiple chronic conditions, and you want your home to feel peaceful and relaxing.
Everyone needs to be well-nourished, but this becomes especially important when you are suffering from chronic illnesses. You may have a decrease in appetite, or extreme fatigue that makes it hard to prepare good, nutritious meals for yourself. If this is the case, you could end up undernourished which can make any chronic conditions worse. Dehydration is a concern as well, and making sure you are drinking plenty of water and other hydrating beverages is extremely important. A meal delivery service can be useful in situations like this, where you can have a nutritious meal delivered to eat or freeze for later. Groceries can often be delivered to your home, eliminating the need to expend precious energy on a trip to the supermarket. Hiring a service to come and cook or serve meals is also an option. If you are finding that meals are difficult to manage, you should look into additional support to make sure you are staying hydrated and receiving good nutrition.
When you are chronically ill, even daily hygiene can become a challenge. A bath or shower can seem like too much to accomplish, and washing your hair can leave you exhausted. Changing bed sheets, making sure that towels are clean, and keeping toilet paper and other essentials stocked are hard enough for someone who is healthy; when you are chronically ill these tasks can seem almost impossible. If you are having problems keeping up with your personal care, you may need to seek the help of family, friends, or an in-home caregiver. Keeping your surroundings clean, bathing, and changing linens will not just keep you physically clean, but will help mentally as well. Living in an unhygienic situation is draining, and can make you feel worse about your chronic conditions. Enlist help if you need help with your personal care.
When you have multiple chronic conditions, you will surely have a lot of doctor’s appointments, tests, and specialist visits to keep up with. These will usually require travelling, sometimes a distance, multiple times a month or even a week. All of that travelling can be draining for someone who is dealing with a chronic illness, and could even lead to appointments being missed or pushed back when you feel you can’t muster the energy to get there. Having someone available to take you to your tests and appointments can take the stress off of you, and keep you current on all of your visits. Keeping all of your doctor and specialist visits is extremely important when managing multiple chronic conditions, so enlist a family member, friend, or use a service to transport you to your appointments. Certain conditions or medications can make you extremely drowsy, and it can be unsafe to drive yourself to appointments. Always have a backup plan to keep you safe and keep your appointments.
The sheer amount of information that a person managing multiple chronic conditions has to process is incredible: “Remarkably, older adults with five or more chronic illnesses have, on average, 50 prescriptions filled, see 14 different physicians, and make 37 physician office visits per year”. Each of those practitioners will present information, suggestions, and take different measurements to evaluate your condition. Keeping up with all of this information can seem daunting, but it is essential to understand the whole scope of your conditions and how they interact with each other. Taking notes at every visit, keeping a binder of your medical history and other relevant information, and taking someone with you to appointments can all help. Having someone else who can take notes while you are speaking with a specialist can keep you focused on what is being said and ensure you have a record of what you talked about. If you are dealing with multiple chronic conditions you need to be able to take charge of your own health and make informed decisions; having all of the information organized will be essential.
If you are filling prescriptions for multiple chronic conditions (on average 50 per year, as stated above), just managing those medications can take up time and precious energy. Especially when you have medications that may interact with one another, making sure you are taking the right medications at the right times is crucial to maintaining good health. If your counters are filled with pill bottles, and you are confused or frustrated, you need AccuPac. This pre packaged medication system delivers you your medications in easy to use pill packets clearly labeled with the medication doses, and time to take. With AccuPac you don’t need to sort pills for the week—we do all the work for you! Our Pharmacists and Patient Care Advocates work together to ensure that you get the right medications, and help you navigate the challenging world of chronic health conditions. If you have multiple chronic conditions, the last thing you need to be worried about is your medication. Don’t spend time in line at the pharmacy every month only to bring home a jumble of pill bottles that still require sorting—get AccuPac and streamline your entire medication routine!
Having the support you need when managing multiple chronic conditions is essential to your quality of life and the effectiveness of your medical routine. Housing, meals, personal care, transportation, and medication management are all hurdles that chronically ill individuals face, and AccuServ Pharmacy is proud to offer solutions that make managing your prescriptions easier. We not only want to help you streamline your medication routine, we want you to be as informed as possible about your chronic illnesses, and offer helpful links to educate you on a number of conditions, including: HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Take control of your health, and make things easier with support, information, and pre packaged medication from AccuPac.