Chronic illness puts a strain on patients’ daily lives that impacts them in many significant ways—most particularly in their jobs. Discomfort, fatigue, medication schedules, and physical limitations are enough to deal with. Considering that many Americans work long hours and have to commute long distances, the impacts on physical and mental well-being, even without extra health complications, are substantial.
The good news is that more support is becoming available to help these individuals live with fewer disruptions. Healthcare is evolving, with technology assisting patients in juggling scheduled working hours and getting the necessary rest and medical attention.
Keep reading to learn about how chronic illnesses impact physical and mental health, the ability to work full time, and some solutions to these issues.
What is a Chronic Illness?
According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (CDC), “Chronic diseases are defined broadly as conditions that last one year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both.”
Conditions classed as chronic illnesses include cancer, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, arthritis, and more. Sometimes external factors, like genetics, can influence the onset of chronic disease. In other cases, these conditions are related to or affected by unhealthy habits. Poor nutrition, tobacco and drug use, excessive alcohol use, and a sedentary lifestyle can all contribute.
Primary and Secondary Conditions
A patient’s primary condition is the leading chronic illness itself. Sometimes, patients might not know that they have a condition, either because they don’t recognize symptoms or because they don’t get the necessary diagnosis.
Secondary conditions are illnesses that can result from the primary condition. For example, heart disease or diabetes might follow from obesity.
Often, primary and secondary conditions interplay with one another. According to the same CDC source linked above, four in 10 US adults simultaneously have two or more chronic diseases.
Most chronic illnesses are incurable, and while prevention is the best action, this is not always possible. When it isn’t, managing chronic conditions as well as possible is essential; illnesses like this cost the US almost one-fifth of its GDP each year.
How Chronic Illnesses Affect Individuals’ Well-being
The importance of a healthy body is easy to forget as long as one has a healthy body. Unfortunately when illness strikes, it takes center stage. Appointments, follow-ups, treatment and medications, pain and discomfort, fatigue, and reduced mobility all become a regular part of life.
Chronic illnesses also impact patients’ mental health in numerous ways. Worry and stress are compounded by feelings of hopelessness when daily activities become a challenge.
When suffering from such conditions, many patients, especially those living rurally, often need to travel long distances regularly to get treatment. Doing so adds stress and expense in addition to the burden they already bear.
Patients with chronic illnesses sometimes do not get adequate support. They might feel like their social network cannot relate to them, or as if they must handle all the pressures on their own.
Poor mental health caused by chronic illnesses can lead to a worsening of physical conditions. Too many responsibilities and too little time may lead to a lack of adherence to a treatment plan, which in turn causes more or worsening symptoms.
How Chronic Illnesses Impact The Ability to Work Full-Time
Chronic illnesses impact the ability of patients to work full-time in a variety of ways. Fatigue, discomfort, reduced mobility, medication schedules, and sometimes medical equipment are all impediments to attending a regular job, while the stress and distraction of a serious or long-term condition may affect job performance.
Below are some real-life quotes that highlight this in more depth.
One digital modeler and designer with epilepsy told the Muse, “One day, I am fully capable of a task while the next day I struggle with generally simple things like brushing my teeth or getting dressed.”
Meanwhile, in an article published by Forbes, another individual said, “[My IV and pills] were not compatible with having to go in and out of meetings all day and keep up with the demands of a 9-to-5.”
How Technology Helps Chronic Illness Sufferers Balance Work and Treatment
Though chronic illness sufferers have historically been disadvantaged in having full-time jobs and impactful careers, technology is changing things.
The rise in remote work is one example. Research from Upwork predicts that 22% of the US workforce will be remote by 2025, equating to 36.2 million people. The same report also found that 15.8% of teams were working entirely remotely in Q4 2020.
Remote work brings many benefits for chronic illness sufferers, including:
- Flexible hours and break times
- Better accommodation of medical equipment and schedules
- Moving closer to support networks
- Ability to dress comfortably
- Moving out of cities to lower stress levels
Another way that technology is helping chronic illness sufferers balance work and their treatment is through telehealth. When using telehealth, there’s no need for patients to travel long distances to clinics.
Telehealth also helps chronic illness sufferers because they don’t have to stay confined to clinic opening hours. Instead, they can meet virtually with practitioners at times that suit them best.
Other benefits of remote healthcare for chronic illness sufferers include:
- Lower infection transmission risks
- Real-time patient monitoring
- Peace of mind knowing that support is readily available
How ChronWell Can Help
ChronWell offers extensive remote healthcare solutions for practices. Clinics and patients can benefit from remote patient monitoring (RPM), as well as tailored chronic care programs.
ChronWell’s telehealth solutions enable you to provide a better multi-channel healthcare experience and save costs and improve your bottom line. Their software solution is tried and tested by businesses throughout the US, with high levels of customer satisfaction.
To find out how ChronWell can help improve your quality of healthcare, contact an expert today.
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