8 tips for living with multiple health conditions
More than a third of the UK adult population live with a long-term condition, and it’s estimated that as many as half of them live with more than one. We explain eight ways to make your life easier if you have multiple conditions.
1. Find out what help is available.
Talk to your GP about services in your area for people with multiple conditions, including community support.
2. Try to schedule medical appointments for the same day if possible.
Assuming they are in the same place, this can reduce visits and travel time.
3. Take a few minutes to prepare for medical appointments.
Write down questions you would like to ask, especially if you’re worried that you might forget them.
4. Ask your GP if there is an Expert Patient course in your area.
This can help you learn about coping with chronic conditions and dealing with pain.
5. Organise your medicines in a way that works for you
If you have lots of medicines to take, it can be hard to keep track. Some people find a dosette box or pill organiser (a plastic box which is separated into different compartments for each day and each time of day, pictured above) helpful. You can get these from pharmacies or buy them online. Usually you would fill these once a week - ask someone to help you if necessary. Or you could try making a daily chart to show when you should take each medication. Or you could label your medication containers with the time you should take them, or keep medication where you are likely to take it at the time - for example, put breakfast tablets in the kitchen, and bed time pills on your bedside table.
6. Request a free Medicines Use Review.
In England, this is an appointment with your local pharmacist to talk about how you’re getting on with your medications. It is useful if you regularly take several prescription medicines or have a long-term illness.
If you’re prescribed a new medication for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or to thin your blood (such as warfarin or clopidogrel) you can ask for extra help from your pharmacist via the New Medicines Service (England only).
7. Get support from people around you.
Friends and family can play an active role in the care of their loved ones. Group activities such as walking or exercise classes are great physical activity and have been shown to help with psychological issues, such as loneliness and depression. Joining a support group can also help.
Find your local support group or call 0300 330 3300 to find your nearest group in England and Wales. In Scotland, call Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland on 0808 801 0899.
8. Being informed about your condition can help you feel in control.
Visit NHS Choices, or other charity websites for different conditions, such as Diabetes UK. Call the BHF’s Heart Helpline on 0300 330 3300 to get answers about heart disease and related conditions.