Dealing with a chronic disease or pain can impact nearly all aspects of daily life.
Living with a chronic disease and/or chronic pain can have a significant impact on your day-to-day life and can be expensive to treat. Chronic disease and chronic pain can be difficult to manage. Some common chronic diseases include:
- Heart Disease
- Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s Disease
In addition to disease-specific symptoms, pain and stress can often occur with chronic disease. Both are linked: pain that interferes with daily activities can often cause stress and the stress of managing symptoms may increase the level of pain you feel.
Strategies to Managing Chronic Disease and Pain
Managing a chronic disease can be difficult. It can often involve a range of treatments and lifestyle changes. While there may not yet be a cure for some chronic diseases, the symptoms they cause can be alleviated.
- Take a proactive approach in your illness and health care. Learn about your condition, the symptoms it causes and the various treatment methods available. Once you start to gain an understanding, develop a list of questions to ask your doctor.
- Seek out a good general practitioner (GP). A GP is a medical doctor specifically trained to treat chronic diseases and provide preventative care. They can answer any questions you may have and suggest a treatment plan.
- Build a team. Managing pain and the symptoms of a chronic disease may require more than just a GP. Consult a team of specialists and coordinate between them to best treat each problem. A nurse may be a valuable resource for trusted online information while a physical therapist may be able to suggest simple exercises.
- Make a commitment. It can be a serious undertaking to manage a chronic disease. To best combat the symptoms that arise, you may consider making a change in your habits. Investing in your health can pay dividends by making you feel better to living longer.
- Manage medications. Prescription drugs are often one of the first methods of treatment for a chronic disease. Managing multiple medications can be challenging. Review some strategies for medication management.
Support Groups and Counseling
Consider joining a support group or pursuing individual or family counseling to help you understand and cope with your chronic disease. A support group is a place where people can share their personal stories and resources. It’s a safe environment where members can express their emotions and receive emotional support.
Individual and family therapy might also be beneficial in treating a chronic disease. Although the symptoms of an illness may be physical, they may affect other aspects of your life. A one-on-one session with a counselor may help you more effectively express how the illness impacts your physical, mental and social health.
Including the family and loved ones in counseling can also help them better understand the chronic disease and work toward a method to address any problems that might be caused by it.
Stress is common with chronic disease. Stress can intensify chronic pain and hinder daily activities and mood. Here are some simple ways to decrease stress:
- Go for a walk
- Listen to soothing music
- Try yoga or meditation
- Practice deep breathing
- Find a hobby or interest
- Spend time with a friend
Live Well Workshops
Live Well is an evidence-based health promotion program that involves a series of workshops designed to help people learn how to manage on-going health issues such as diabetes, arthritis, chronic pain, anxiety, depression and lung and heart disease. The goal of the Live Well initiative is to help adults understand the physical, mental and social effects of aging, improve confidence and live a healthier life.
Workshops are held weekly and cover additional topics such as:
- Improving decision making and setting goals
- Healthy eating
- Exercise and improving balance
- Effective communication
Participants are encouraged to share experiences, socialize and assist each with other problems they encounter. The workshops will guide attendees through making weekly action plans and creating a self-management program to address the issues above.
These workshops are free and are held once a week for six week periods in community settings such as senior centers, churches, libraries and hospitals.
Learn More: Find programs, workshops and additional information about the Live Well program here.