Who Lives With a Chronic Illness? A Lot of People.
More than half of the world’s population lives with a chronic condition and of the 2 trillion the US spends on healthcare each year, 86% goes toward those individuals. Its estimated that productivity losses as a result of chronic conditions cost our nation around 1 trillion dollars annually.
Perhaps what’s most shocking of all though is that 12% of the population lives with 5 OR MORE chronic illnesses. Some of these conditions include chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s/dementia, hypertension, COPD, high cholesterol, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and depression.
All in all, chronic conditions may be more common than you realize, but some individuals have more to juggle than others.
“Being a chronic disease sufferer is – at best – challenging and – at worst – completely debilitating.”
Sometimes we can prevent the onset of chronic conditions by refraining from smoking, eating a primarily healthy diet, and staying active. But sometimes we have no say in the conditions that become such an overwhelming part of our daily lives. We walk outside, get bitten by a tick and end up with Lyme disease. We’re genetically predisposed to diabetes. Mental illness springs up on us with little warning. It happens. Some things you can’t control.
So, What Can We Do?
Prevention When Possible
Awareness campaigns can be extremely successful for combatting chronic conditions, especially when they’re directed to the most at risk populations. We can also work to reduce environmental risk factors.
Discipline With Care
Staying on top of your care plan is essential when you have a chronic illness. I’m not saying that its always easy, but it can make all the difference. Yes, care can sometimes be tedious, tiring, frustrating, or all of the above. But overall, you deserve to help yourself feel the absolute best you possibly can. When it gets hard, remind yourself that your self-care is always easier than dealing with your condition without treatment.
Encouraging New Developments
Encouraging, promoting, and supporting developments that help make living with a chronic condition easier is one of the best ways that you can support yourself/those you know who deal with a chronic illness. In a constantly growing and evolving technological world, there’s been a great increase in the use of technology within treatment plans. While these technological developments may not always lead to a cure, they often significantly improve the quality of life of those with chronic illnesses. There are some great things out there now, and there’s more coming every day.
“Scaled data management and analytics, proliferation of wearables and IoT sensors, and the dawn of artificial intelligence are among the many technologies that we expect to drastically improve the management of chronic diseases.”
Whether you have a chronic illness yourself or not, know there are steps you can take to help those who do. You can be an advocate and offer support even when you don’t fully understand what its like to live with one.
You know that old saying- everyone has the same 24 hours in a day to use to accomplish whatever they want. Well, its true in part. But for people with chronic conditions, a large chunk of that time is often consumed by their illness. If you know that feeling, know you’re not alone. And if you don’t have a chronic condition, consider using a portion of your 24 hours to be an advocate for those who do.
Read more here about the current state of chronic conditions in our country and how technology is making an impact.