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Living with chronic illness and remaining independent at home

by Lindsey Nathan on 16 May 2019 11:14am : 755

Chronic illness, chronic pain, help at home

Many of us have grown up believing that asking for help is a sign of weakness. It’s not, quite the opposite in fact. At Close to Hand we see it as an act of self-compassion.

Ask for help
Almost all of us will seek the help of others at some point in our life for support with everyday tasks – we may ask friends or family or look for outside help after having a baby, when recovering from surgery or as we slow down with age. Dipping energy levels, loss of mobility and feelings of loneliness are all reasons to reach out for help and it’s no different for sufferers of chronic pain and illness.

According to the Department for Health and Social Care, as many as 15 million people in England have one or more long-term health conditions and the number of people with multiple conditions is rising. It is estimated that 25% of those with a chronic medical condition, face limitations to their daily activities.

Chronic diseases, which include arthritis, diabetes and multiple sclerosis, for example, typically require ongoing or long-term treatment to control or manage the symptoms. Some chronic illnesses get worse over time, and others come and go over months or years.

Adjusting to life with chronic illness
Be your own best friend and accept help to make your life easier:

  • Recognise your limits and learn to say no to the demands of others

  • Accept help from people – and no, that doesn’t mean being dependent on friends and family

  • Build fun into your life and make sure you save energy for activities that bring you happiness

  • Focus your physical and emotional resources on those things that matter most to you

Maintaining independence
Every condition has its own particular issues, but if a chronic condition has left you unable to manage activities of daily living, there are ways to maintain your independence at home.

Many conditions allow you to remain relatively independent and make your own decisions. If you plan well, it is easy to make changes as your situation alters. Home Helpers can provide an extra pair of hands to people of all ages, as and when they need it, to enhance their quality of life.

People with debilitating conditions like fibromyalgia, lupus, and chronic fatigue syndrome may have good days and bad days and will not necessarily need help 24/7. That’s when the flexibility and affordability of a Home Helper can make all the difference as you are in control of your own support plan, whether you need help for a few hours every day or for short interludes every now and again.

Conserve energy for what matters to you
Home Helpers are there to take care of the daily tasks from light housework to running errands to cooking dinner and gardening, so that you can focus on you. If you think of your physical and emotional energy as reserves in the bank, then it’s up to you how you spend them; if you’ve only got so much energy in the bank, don’t waste it on household tasks that others can help with.

Perhaps you need a chaperone to accompany you on trips out of the house, that way if your energy levels take a dip, you have someone there to support you.

Coping with chronic pain flare-ups
Some chronic illnesses can affect your mobility and consequently your physical and functional status, emotional balance, and self-esteem. It's easy to get mad or frustrated when you don’t feel like yourself, but don’t let those emotions stop you from building a support network around you. Preparing for the future will give you and your loved ones comfort and help you to gain back a sense of control when flare-ups in your condition leave you feeling weak.

There's a learning curve with everything and working out how to fit your illness around your life (and not the other way around) - be it doing rehabilitative exercises after surgery, adapting your home to accommodate your wheelchair or remembering to use your inhaler - takes time and patience.

Facing the future
One of the biggest fears those living with chronic illness face is about the future. Being diagnosed with any medical problem can be a shock and there’s naturally a period of adjustment.  However, if you resist help you risk becoming isolated and your illness taking over your life. Research shows that feelings of loneliness can lead to depression, a further decline in health and recurring hospital stays.

People who receive help can lead productive and rewarding lives and often maintain their independence and lifestyle choices, for longer.

Find a local Home Helper

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