Living Well with a Chronic Illness

Physical therapist helping a senior man with weights


According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), almost half of all adults have a chronic disease or condition. These include heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, arthritis, and even obesity. Many people live with more than one chronic condition.

The good news is that many of these conditions can be improved with lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. For those who are living with a chronic disease, here are some additional lifestyle tips that may help:

Put yourself first

Many people with spouses and/or children often put their needs above their own. But for people suffering from a chronic condition, it’s important to take care of yourself first. A flight attendant will instruct you to put your mask on before assisting others. The same advice applies here. Take care of yourself so you will be better able to participate in the lives of your family.

Become informed

Learn all you can about your condition and what things you can do to mitigate its symptoms. As we mentioned a change in diet or beginning an exercise program may go a long way in helping ease some of the pain and discomfort you experience.

Share your feelings with others

Let others know what frustrations, fears and concerns you’re facing. First, bottling up your emotions can cause further health consequences, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester. Second, sharing your feelings with family and friends will allow them the opportunity to provide meaningful assistance.


Mindful meditation has been shown to help in pain reduction and even reducing the risk of death, heart attack and stroke in heart patients. For many people, meditation produces a trance-like state, which allows your body to relax, a condition highly conducive to cell regeneration, blood flow and heart rate. This relaxed state allows the blood to do its work, cleansing the body of pathogens, which can be responsible for many chronic conditions.

Stay positive

Positive thinking doesn’t mean you ignore the challenges you’re facing – it simply means you approach those challenges in a more productive and positive way. For instance, if you get a devastating diagnosis, start planning now for ways that changes now can provide a better outlook down the road. Taking an active part in creating a better future will prove more beneficial than giving up and accepting a life that is less than optimal. A study by the American Heart Association showed that heart patients with positive attitudes tended to live longer.

Find a purpose in life

People who feel their life has meaning and purpose tend to be healthier and live longer than those who don’t. A study conducted in 2014 discovered that people who reported a greater sense of purpose in life were more likely to outlive their peers. One’s purpose could be as simple as making others happy to contributing to social change.

Get help from experts in the field

Both Pat Lombreglia and Laura Holly-Dierbach, the founders of Pathways, have advanced certification in Palliative Care from the prestigious University of Colorado College of Nursing, considered to be one of the best palliative care courses in the country. This yearlong intensive course in managing chronic illness and co-morbidities, combined with our extensive hands-on experience in helping people free themselves of the pain of chronic illness, provides a strong foundation for assisting those living with the challenges of constant pain and discomfort.

Categories: Senior Health