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What Is Considered a Chronic Condition?

An estimated 133 million Americans are living with a chronic condition today. Each chronic condition is different with symptoms and the impact on day-to-day life.

For some people, living with a chronic condition might mean the need for daily medicine and for others it can lead to an increasing need for support at home and getting around to run routine errands and see medical professionals.

What’s a Chronic Condition?

Chronic conditions are also called chronic diseases and can make a wide range of illnesses.

In a paper by Frontiers on Public Health published on the National Institutes of Health website, the authors explained: “One term that is often used in discussions between patients and medical providers, in the academic literature, and in policy discussions, is “chronic disease.” There is not only tremendous variation in the diseases that are included under the umbrella term “chronic disease” but also variation in the time a disease must be present for something to be referred to as chronic. Furthermore, there is a move to include chronic conditions that are not indicators of disease, but long-standing functional disabilities, including developmental disorders and visual impairment.”

Other organizations that have defined chronic diseases or chronic conditions are the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The WHO states that an illness that lasts more than three months is chronic, whereas the CDC explains, “Chronic diseases are defined broadly as conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both.”

Some of these diseases are inherited, while others have no known cause, and some are the result of lifestyle choices such as excessive drinking of alcohol or smoking.

Acute vs. Chronic Conditions

Acute conditions can be something sudden and one-time, but they might also be the result of a chronic condition. Consider osteoporosis as a chronic condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle, therefore more prone to breaking in a fall or other accidents. If someone with osteoporosis fell and broke an arm, the breaking of the bone would be an acute condition.

Acute conditions are usually temporary and last anywhere from hours to days, resulting from exposure to a virus or an accident. They can also be the result of misuse of drugs or medications.

People who are experiencing an acute condition, such as recovery after a hospital stay for a bone break, might benefit from care in the home as

According to The National Council on Aging, “Chronic conditions are often caused by unhealthy behaviors that increase the risk of disease—poor nutrition, inadequate physical activity, overuse of alcohol, or smoking. Social, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors also play a role. As people age, they are more likely to develop one more chronic condition.”

What Is Considered a Chronic Condition?

There are many chronic conditions, but some of the most common include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Arthritis
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis
  • Parkinson’s disease

People might be living with multiple chronic conditions, which can have an impact on their quality of life.

While someone who is living with high blood pressure can make adjustments to their diet, exercise, and medication, a person who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease may need help with bathing, dressing, and grooming each day as the condition progresses. Someone who is living with Parkinson’s disease could require help with food preparation and eating as swallowing and chewing become a challenge.

Chronic Condition Support

For someone living with a chronic condition that affects how they can function and perform activities of daily living, a professional in-home caregiver can provide relief for them or a family member who needs to take care of themselves. The Homewatch CareGivers University offers on-going training for caregivers so that they can obtain specialized knowledge for needs that arise from certain conditions.

Contact your local Homewatch CareGivers office today to set up a consultation and discuss your needs.

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