If so, you’re not alone. One in four Americans is living with multiple chronic conditions, and among Americans aged 65 and older, as many as three out of four people have multiple chronic conditions.
Managing multiple chronic conditions
When you have multiple chronic conditions, this likely means that you visit different physicians or specialists for each condition, which can take up a lot of time. Often, each doctor doesn’t know what the other is recommending, and sometimes medications for different conditions may interact with one another.
- • Prioritize your own care: Be proactive about deciding what is most valuable for you. Is it important that you can travel? Play the piano? Spend time with family? Live independently? Tell your physicians and ask how you can tailor your treatment to meet these goals.
- • Get all the information you can: Don’t be shy about asking lots of questions. How should you expect a new medication to affect you? What are the benefits and risks? How and when should you take it? When should you start feeling the effects? Write the questions (and answers) down so you can refer to them later. Think about bringing a friend or family member who can help you remember all the details.
- • Seek out a “quarterback”: Ask one of your doctors – likely your primary care physician or the specialist you see the most – to keep an eye on the big picture and help coordinate your care across all physicians you see.
- • Remind your doctors: If a physician is prescribing a new treatment, remind them of the other treatments you already take and ask if there are any potential interactions. If you don’t think the doctor has enough expertise to understand potential drug interactions, ask them to get input from a pharmacist.
- • Speak up if something doesn’t seem right: Tell your doctor immediately if a treatment doesn’t seem to be working or is causing problems. Also, speak up if your treatment plan is too complicated for you to manage. Your physician can help you find ways to make it work better for you.
How do you manage? What advice do you have for others with more than one chronic condition? Please share your comments below.