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Planning Tips for Living With a Chronic Illness
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Planning Tips for Living With a Chronic Illness

When it comes to your health, the less you leave to chance, the better. Careful planning gives you the freedom to travel, have fun and experience your life without the fear of something going wrong. It’s like a cheat sheet — while the unexpected might sweep the rug out from others, you’ve got a plan.

So what kind of planning is most beneficial for a person with chronic illnesses? How do you keep that rug in place?

Plan for Pain

Even if you’re in a good spot right now, there’s always a chance for a pain flare-up or re-emergence of symptoms. Make sure you and your doctor have a plan for pain, whether it be medication, rest, or physical therapy. Pain medication can be a tricky subject, and it’s important to use heavier medications, like opiates, in a healthy way. If you’re concerned about the way pain medication affects you or relying too heavily on opioid painkillers, it’s important to have a plan of action, created by you and your doctor, ready to go. Keep any caretakers in your life apprised of the plan.

Plan for Fun

Chronic illness shouldn’t prevent you from experiencing all the fun and adventure you like. It does mean that you might need to be a little more careful in your planning. Travelling with a chronic illness, for example, requires a few extra steps. Visit your doctor beforehand to make sure you’re in good enough health for your excursion. While you’re there, make sure you have a good enough supply of medication to last through your trip. It’s important to prepare for anything that might happen while travelling; bring along any pertinent medical records, emergency contact information for your doctor, and plans to get a medical flight to the hospital of your choice (if necessary).

The trick is to make sure you have everything you need to keep you in good health — and to plan for the moments you aren’t. If you have backup plans in place, it’s easier to relax and have a good time.

Plan for the Big Moments

No matter how carefully you plan, the big, scary moments will happen. While there’s no way to take all the stress and fear out of hospital visits, surgery, and even end-of-life processes, you can make them easier on yourself by having advanced care directives and designating the person who can legally make decisions for you once you cannot make care decisions for yourself. It’s important to go through these steps, as hard as they might be. It’s vital to make sure that, in your weakest state, you are still the architect of your life. End-of-life care directives can be the difference between private or public care, the way your pain is managed, and how your life ends.

Plan for Your Family

All of this planning, while undoubtedly beneficial to you, is also hugely important to your family and other loved ones. Caring for a spouse or family member with chronic illnesses often creates a lot of fear of doing the wrong thing. You can help your family know what is right for you by simply discussing your plans, your needs, and your wishes for your care. Beyond that, legal and financial planning takes away a lot of the burden from your family members. Estate planning, including making arrangements for everything from estate tax to funeral plans, keeps your family from making tough financial decisions. You can rest easy knowing your family won’t be burdened.

What it all comes down to is this: healthcare, end-of-life plans and caring for your family after you’re gone is a tough set of conversations, both with yourself and your loved ones. But planning for these moments, as hard as it is, means that you’ll live a life unburdened by the fear and anxiety of the unknown. You can focus on your health and happiness — and that’s the most important thing.

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