A chronic condition is an illness that lasts a long time and doesn’t go away, and often leads to your health gradually getting worse. If you have a chronic condition, you will need to have a range of treatments and follow a healthy lifestyle. This page gives ideas on how you can manage a chronic condition.
Managing my chronic condition
There is plenty you can do to help yourself. It doesn't matter whether you have:
- coronary heart disease
- dementia or
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
The more knowledge and control you have, the better your health will be.
What can I do?
Learn as much as you can about your illness. Read widely, although be careful - not everything you read is true. Learning about your condition will help you take control of your health, and will allow you to choose treatments that suit you. It will also help you ask the right questions of your doctor.
Make sure you have a good general practitioner, one who you can talk to and who understands you and the way you live your life. Having one person who is central to your health care will make it much easier for you. If you don't have a GP who you feel can really help you, talk to friends or read about how to find a GP.
Try to work together with your team of healthcare providers, which might include specialists, and difference types of therapists. And try to make sure they work together - you can help by encouraging them to share information about your health.
Ask your doctor for a management plan. This lists what you both need to do to manage your illness. It is agreed on between you and your doctor.
Live a healthy lifestyle. Many people with chronic conditions feel better with a good diet, being as active as they can be, being a healthy weight, not smoking and minimising alcohol.
Understand the medicines you take. If you are taking them for long periods, have your doctor review them each year to make sure they are still appropriate.
Where can I get support?
There is plenty of help and support available to help you manage your chronic condition. Sources of support can include support groups and services, self-management programs and support for carers.
You can join a support group or online forum to chat with people who have the same chronic condition as you. Many organisations have these and will give you information about the best way to manage your chronic disease:
- Stroke Foundation
- Asthma Australia
- Arthritis Australia
- Diabetes Australia
- Heart Foundation
- Healthy Bones Australia
- Dementia Australia
You can find a list of resources to help manage chronic conditions on the Department of Health website.
You may also consider contacting a social worker, who can provide short term counselling and information about government and community support services. Speak with your community health centre about how a social worker may be able to help you manage your chronic condition.
Self-management programs give you information and skills to help manage your illness. Contact your local government office or community health organisation to find one that suits you.
Support for carers
If you need help finding support services, talk to your doctor or call Healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria).
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Last reviewed: May 2020