Many people have a chronic health condition that they are trying to keep under control. Every chronic health condition will require a specific plan to manage it. However, there are many things they have in common. Here we will explore the process that almost anyone with a chronic health condition can follow to help manage that condition.
The six dimensions of Optimum Life provide a great framework for a holistic approach to chronic disease management. Taking stock of things that you can do in each dimension will yield a comprehensive plan. Don’t try to do everything at once. Choose one or two things to work on at a time and get them firmly established in your life before focusing on the next thing.
The first step to taking charge of your health is gaining a thorough understanding of your particular health condition and knowing what it takes to keep it under control. Knowledge is power!
Physical - Exercise Plan
The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Association have recently updated the guidelines for activity for older adults. It is important for all older adults to get 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week and to have strength and flexibility exercises twice per week.
Daily activity is essential for the management of virtually all chronic health conditions. However, the recommendations can vary depending on what your particular concerns are. Therefore, prior to beginning any activity program you need to see your primary health care provider.
In addition it is most likely advisable for you to be monitored while you are in the early stages of an activity program. This can take place through ISC if you live in a Brookdale Senior Living community.
In all likelihood, medication is a part of your overall health plan. You may take something that helps to manage the condition itself, or things that help with the effects of the condition such as pain medication. Not taking medications properly leads to many hospital stays in this country. Find a reliable method for managing your medications.
What you eat has an impact on your body, plain and simple. Think of food as a drug that can either help or hurt your overall health. Food is meant to be fuel for the incredible machine that is your body. Be mindful about what you eat and about what impact it has on how you feel and how your body responds to it.
The Social Dimension is about our connection to others and the creation and maintenance of healthy relationships. When dealing with a chronic condition, it is important to find support from other who can empathize with you.
According to The Successful Aging study and others, social support and social connections are more important predictors of longevity than chronic illness or even risk factors such as smoking.
Emotional difficulties may accompany the diagnosis and management of a chronic health condition. You may feel a wide array of emotions that can impact your overall sense of well being. Finding ways to express your emotions positively can help you to get into balance and gain control.
Stress can negatively affect your health. Humor and laughter have been demonstrated to alleviate stress, improve mood and boost the immune system. Other stress management techniques include relaxation and guided imagery which can help to bring about good things related to the management of your condition.
Depression can be quite common with some health conditions and it is vital that you recognize it if it comes your way. If you are having trouble coping, finding that you can’t get moving, aren’t interested in your normal activities, have a decreased appetite, have trouble sleeping or other such symptoms, get help immediately.
Your spirituality is very personal. Finding your spiritual path as a person with a chronic health condition will mean that you come to terms with your condition and have peace in your life in spite of it.
Find a spiritual practice that is in line with your beliefs and do it consistently. Setting aside a small part of your day in this pursuit will have a profound impact on your overall wellness.
Making a promise to yourself is something you can do to help you succeed at incorporating behaviors in to your life that will bring your chronic condition under control. It is similar to setting goals, with different wording. Hopefully you feel compelled to keep the promises you make to yourself.
Think about your own personal treatment plan and the things you need to do to succeed.
Carol Cummings, BSN, RN
Certified Wellness Coach
Brookdale Senior Living