Chronic health conditions can make everyday responsibilities challenging for older adults. Chronic health conditions are defined as ongoing and lifelong.
Many chronic diseases generally offer a pre-warning. Pre-warnings are often ignored by the hearer.
Here is one example. Have you heard the words…pre-diabetic or pre-hypertension?
The prefix “PRE” is the yellow caution flag telling you to slow down and change directions. Once “PRE” changes to CHRONIC, managing the health condition is lifelong, in most cases, controlled by an array of treatment options and guidance.
With a lack of knowledge about chronic health conditions that your loved one may have, caregivers can also be challenged by the role. When one is thrust into taking care of someone, the need assessment is often not fully known. This can be problematic!
Many chronic conditions require a working knowledge base on healthcare visits and follow-ups, medication management, nutritional health, and skin care, just to name a few. The mental health of the care recipient must also be high on the caregiver’s radar.
A loved one who was once active and energetic dealing with chronic illnesses can cause feelings of worthlessness. Please pay attention!
As a nurse since 1985, I’m blessed to have practiced professionally and in a personal role, (read more in my book: From The Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor), and having taken care of thousands of patients, including my mother, my expertise is broad. While working in the acute care setting and working alongside talented practitioners, like Dr. Denton Cooley, I learned about cutting-edge medicine and evidence-based practices. I kept my mother out of the hospital because I managed her needs in the home using my knowledge and acquired skill set.
So, you may ask, what chronic conditions do I focus on, and when should caregiver antennas be raised? My answer…all of the time (chronic conditions) is, all the time.
There are so many health conditions deemed chronic. However, there are several that remain front and center. For example, heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and one rarely talked about, seizure health. These require knowledge bases on medications and the route of administration, nutrition (some foods are contraindicated with some medications), weight management, and lab work for medication adjustments. I know that being a caregiver is a lot of work, with a lot to learn.
As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, I can help.
Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is a retired registered nurse and case manager; CEO of Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate and author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor, and The Black Book of Important Information for Caregivers.