You will understand how chronic causes inconvenience, stress, and anxiety. Follow life-saving safety tips when you – or someone you love – is living with a chronic illness. According to the CDC “chronic diseases are defined broadly as conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both” (CDC, About Chronic Diseases, cdc.gov). You’re not alone, either. From arthritis, asthma and Alzheimer’s, to cancer, COPD, high blood pressure, and heart disease, approximately 6 in 10 adults have a chronic disease in the U.S. (cdc.gov).
Managing a chronic illness can feel like a full-time job. And while many people with chronic illnesses work, have a family, etc. They still need to constantly keep track of their health. While this can feel overwhelming at times, there are some life-saving safety tips. Those life saving safety tips will help you stay on top of your condition while allowing you to live as actively as possible:
Tip #1: Be proactive.
While you might not be able to cure your chronic illness. Consider preventive measures you can take to prevent other chronic illnesses. And you can prevent exacerbating the one you already have. For example, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to reduce the chances of other chronic conditions. Those diseases are high cholesterol or diabetes since these are highly correlated with obesity. And if you already have a chronic disease that is linked to being overweight, then it’s crucial to work with your doctor. Consult with him and create an action plan that will help you manage and lose weight. It will reduce your symptoms (and prevent your condition from worsening).
Remaining as active as possible is another great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is a well-known fact that exercise helps release endorphins. The “feel-good” chemicals that, when released, can make you feel happier and more optimistic. Endorphins also reduce the perception of pain, according to WebMD, which can be an extremely important factor to consider if you are living with pain from your chronic illness. Clearly, a positive outlook and reduced feelings of pain in your body are two compelling reasons to get active. Therefore you need to increase your current activity level.
The Mayo Clinic agrees that, “if you have a chronic condition, regular exercise can help you manage symptoms and improve your health”. (Mayo Clinic, Exercise & Chronic Disease: Get the Facts, mayoclinic.org). However, be sure to first check with your doctor to ensure that the exercises you plan to partake in are safe for your medical condition. For example, aerobic activity can be perfect for someone with high blood pressure. But certain high-impact exercises might need to be taken with caution if you have osteoporosis.
Tip #2: Eat well.
Diets low in fiber and high in fat and sugars are known to cause inflammation in the body – and many doctors believe that inflammation can be at the root of disease and health problems. Consider these significant findings, as cited in Harvard Medical School’s online Men’s Health Watch article. They cited “In a study published in 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine, Dr. Hu and his colleagues found an association between a high-sugar diet and a greater risk of dying from heart disease.
Over the course of the 15-year study, people who got 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared with those who consumed 8% of their calories as added sugar” (Harvard Medical School, The sweet danger of sugar, health.harvard.edu). On the other hand, foods high in fiber and foods known for their inflammation-reducing properties (like dark, leafy greens) are a terrific way to eat healthfully.Another added benefit of a healthy diet? Weight loss and/or maintenance. So, how can one improve his or her diet? The American Heart Association encourages eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, skinless poultry and fish, nuts, legumes, and non-tropical oils.
At the same time, the AHA recommends limiting “saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. If you choose to eat red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available” (American Heart Association, The American Heart Association Lifestyle and Diet Recommendations, heart.org). When you eat a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein – while avoiding excessive amounts of sugar and fats – you will increase your odds of maintaining a healthy weight. And if this kind of diet has never been part of your lifestyle, improving your diet will allow you to lose weight as well.
Tip #3: Stay on top of doctor’s appointments.
Many times, people with chronic health conditions need to visit specialists, have blood testing done regularly, etc. Clearly, it is important to not only show up for your scheduled appointments, but also to schedule the necessary appointments in the first place. An easy way to avoid falling behind on checkups is to schedule the next appointment before you ever leave the doctor’s office from a previous appointment. And if the office isn’t scheduling out to the timeframe where your next appointment falls, schedule a reminder for yourself before you leave the office. Something as simple as adding a reminder in your calendar. You can asking the doctor’s office to call or mail you a postcard are simply ways to keep track of which doctor you need to visit – and when that appointment needs to take place.
Tip #4: Follow your regimen.
If part of managing your condition involves medications, physical therapy, etc., it’s important to follow through with that regimen. If you take medication, for example, one easy way to stick with your regimen is to consider enrolling in a mail-order program (if your insurance plan covers it). This will help you to avoid forgetting to refill a prescription in time. The more automated you can make this process and others, the less likely you are to lapse or forget – and the more likely you will stick to your routines and schedules.
But sometimes “life” gets in the way, and it’s easy to push off that PT appointment. Or, in the event that your condition seems to improve, you may think it’s a good time to scale back on your medication. Before taking any of these measures, be sure to discuss it with your doctor. While it may be possible to reduce dosages or the frequency of doctor’s appointments. You want to run these ideas by qualified medical personnel first. Sometimes cutting back on medication can actually create other unintended – and sometimes serious – side effects. And not attending therapy sessions before you’re ready to make the break can create physical issues that could worsen your condition.
Tip #5: Get Silent Beacon.
Silent Beacon is the perfect device if an emergency with your chronic illness strikes. This small, portable personal safety device pairs with the free Silent Beacon app. Then, in the event of an emergency, you simply press the button on the device. This will triggers an alert to your contact list via text, phone, and/or email message(s). You can store up to seven contacts on your list, including friends, family, and emergency personnel. If you activate the alert, responders can pinpoint your location immediately, thanks to the GPS technology. And as you wait for help to arrive, you may enable the two-way communication feature, allowing you to talk to friends and family the entire time. When you trigger a Silent Beacon alert, you’re contacting emergency assistance directly… without call centers or middlemen that could waste precious minutes.
Silent Beacon is affordable, too, at $99 for the device. It’s a one-time fee, with no activation, cancellation, or recurring charges. While nobody wants the diagnosis of a chronic illness, it is still possible to live your life to the fullest. By following these 5 important life-saving safety tips, you can navigate your condition. While finding ways to remain as active, engaged, and healthy as possible.