How To Manage Multiple Chronic Health Conditions
Did you know that many seniors are living with three or more chronic health conditions? Some of the most common include diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, and osteoporosis, all of which require different treatment plans and different medications. Managing multiple health issues means that you have to become your own advocate, from monitoring how you feel when taking a new medication, to ensuring your treatment plans aren’t too confusing, to scheduling regular check-ups with your specialists.
Being your own advocate while managing several chronic health conditions can be overwhelming, confusing, and stressful, but it’s essential that you take control of your treatment and your medications to avoid any complications. Here are three actions you can take to get started:
Tell Your Doctor Right Away if a Treatment Doesn’t Seem to be Working or is Causing Problems
You are the only person who truly knows how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. Medications for certain health conditions often come with side effects, and it’s important to pay attention to how these medications make you feel. It’s also important to note if you don’t feel your medications are helping to alleviate your symptoms, and it’s something your doctor should know as soon as possible.
If a certain medication or treatment is making you feel sick, or you suspect it’s negatively interacting with one of your other medications, please call your doctor and let them know what’s happening. If it helps, you can make a list of your medications and how you feel after taking each one, or how you feel after taking all of them together, and share that list with your doctor.
Speak up if the Treatment Plan is too Complicated, Confusing, or Unclear
We always recommend asking for clear, written instructions for any treatment plan before leaving your doctor’s office. Your doctor should give you all the necessary information, including when to take your medications, whether or not to take them with food or a drink, and which medications can be combined and which cannot. If you’re managing multiple chronic health issues and you’re taking several medications, your treatment plan can easily become too confusing. If this happens, speak up and ask for clarification along with a simpler plan.
Tell the Doctor About Priorities for Care
If you’re helping your senior parent manage their health conditions, tell their doctor about their lifestyle, the things that are important to them, and what makes them most comfortable. For example, if your dad loves taking a long morning walk, he will want to avoid taking any medications in the morning that can make him feel drowsy. It’s important to understand how each medication will impact your parent’s existing lifestyle and hobbies.
When a recommended medication comes with possible side effects that interfere with your senior parent’s lifestyle, ask their doctor about alternatives. There are alternatives to some medications that simply work in different ways and result in different side effects. Sometimes it’s a matter of trial and error, and it’s essential to know the full list of potential side effects before giving your parent something new to take.
If you have any questions about how to manage multiple chronic health conditions, or if you’d like more information about our long term care in New Jersey, please contact our team at UMC today: https://umcommunities.org