Many people today live with one or more chronic medical conditions. Medical advances have come far in allowing people with chronic and debilitating conditions like diabetes, heart disease, breathing problems and arthritis to live longer and more productive lives, but at some cost.
Managing conditions like these requires careful attention to details like medication compliance, regular checkups, following strict dietary guidelines and exercise protocols. If your loved one is also resistant to change or has memory loss issues you could have a recipe for a bad outcome. A lifestyle of managing chronic conditions requires an intensity of schedule that most older adults simply cannot handle without help. Typically, people dealing with this challenging lifestyle have a lower quality of life and a higher usage of the healthcare system.
When you are a family caregiver, it’s up to you to make this complex checklist run smoothly day after day, but how will you accomplish such a daunting task? There’s no easy answer, but here are some suggestions for creating a winning strategy.
First, if your loved one doesn’t use some type of pill box to keep up with what medications are taken when, you need to get organized. Consider (or learn) what the medication schedule is, and then get a pill organizer that works with a daily or weekly schedule. This is beneficial in two ways. First, each day’s pills are pre-sorted, making a medication schedule very manageable. Second, when filling the week’s pill boxes, you will quickly know if a prescription needs to be refilled and get that done before it runs out. This is particularly important during the uncertainty of the pandemic with its shortages and closures.
You will also need to manage regular checkups with primary care doctors as well as specialists who treat specific chronic conditions. This can become quite complicated when you are managing several different conditions. It is advisable to have those you care for give permission to their medical practices to release information to you so you can be well informed of what treatments are prescribed and lifestyle and diet changes are recommended so you can create a plan that incorporates these recommendations.
Finally, don’t let a slip-up defeat you. Be gentle with yourself and those you care for; nobody is perfect, and when anyone is hit with a new diagnosis that calls for big changes it’s going to take some time to figure out how to find your center and your balance again. Seeking wisdom and guidance through prayer, bible study, and Christian fellowship can really help you find the strength to give support and guidance to those you care for and love.
Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about how to keep everything running on track as you help manage chronic conditions.