Managing chronic health conditions at home

04.24.2020

Some of the best health advice, perhaps not surprisingly, applies whether you are managing a chronic health condition or not. But managing your health during a stay-at-home order can pose special challenges, so we encourage our patients to, as best they can, follow these guidelines:

  1. Keep to a schedule. This applies throughout the day, including going to bed and waking, meals, exercise, work and play. Being on a schedule will help with the monotony of each day, and helps you keep better track of time. Allowing yourself a balance of work and play helps keep your body and mind functioning at optimal levels.

  2. Plan your meals. At the beginning of the week, plan how you’ll get lean meat, vegetables, fruits and whole grains in your diet over the course of the week. While it may be easy to just heat up a prepackaged dinner, most of these meals aren’t good for people with diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease due to the sodium content. Be creative and try new things!

  3. Stay connected to your family and friends. Whether or not you have other people in your household, technology offers us a number of ways to have conversations with each other while seeing each other’s faces: Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp or Marco Polo are easy, free apps you can use. Set aside a time every week to get together using these apps.

  4. Take care of your body and mind:

    1. Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

    2. Drink plenty of water. Be careful with caffeinated drinks, which may also contain a lot of sugar.

    3. Eat foods that will help boost your immune system.

    4. Get some exercise every day, even if it’s just taking the dog for a short walk or going up and down the stairs to get your heart rate up.

    5. Try to spend 15 minutes outside each day in the sun, weather permitting. 

    6. Spend a little time meditating to help you relax. If you need help, there are free apps like Calm, Headspace and UCLA’s Mindful app.

  5. Take your medications as prescribed. Right now, the healthier you are, the more likely you are to stay out of the hospital. That’s our goal – to keep you out of the hospital.

  6. If you have high blood pressure, check your blood pressure once a day, an hour after you’ve taken your medication. Call your provider if it’s high or you don’t feel good: for example, if you have a headache, shortness of breath, chest pain or dizziness.

  7. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar. Stress can cause it to go up and adjustments may be needed.

  8. Know when to call 9-1-1 and when to call your provider. Blood sugar changes, headaches and chest pain can all be caused by anxiety. But if you have risk factors, they can also be a sign of a stroke or heart attack. We would rather you call us or 9-1-1 to discuss your symptoms and concerns with us. Similarly, if you are living with someone who is having difficulty communicating, is sweating profusely or seems confused, call your provider to discuss next steps.

  9. Take a break from the news and from social media. Remember that not all news is accurate. There’s a lot happening very quickly right now. Work on a puzzle, read a book or play a game online with a friend.

  10. Try something new. Take up a new hobby, something you always wanted to do but never had time. This could be learning a new language, an art project, knitting, sewing or painting a room in your home.

Finally, communicate! We’re here for you. We want you to be healthy. If you have concerns, we’re available by phone and via virtual visits, even if we aren’t in the office. We’d rather address an issue before it becomes a problem, so we can keep you out of the hospital if at all possible.

 

Article by Bethany Perrin, DO, who practices at Goshen Physicians Family Medicine, Pro Park in Goshen. Dr. Perrin is a board certified family medicine physician who practices the full scope of medicine, including the treatment of a wide range of chronic diseases.She is dedicated to improving the health of our community by providing expert medical care for people of all ages.