More and more people are now living with a chronic or long-term condition – a disease which is likely to require ongoing treatment and medication for many years, even decades.
The most common long-term conditions include asthma, diabetes (Types I and II), heart disease, epilepsy, arthritis, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and high blood pressure. However, people can suffer from much rarer conditions and you may suffer from multiple conditions.
Some people are born with a long-term condition, while others may have acquired their condition during childhood or as an adult. Some conditions are more likely to be associated with older people or those who are obese, smoke or drink too much.
The chances of developing a long-term condition increases with age, although you can minimise your risk of getting some diseases by staying active, watching your diet, not smoking and restricting your alcohol intake.
Managing your condition
If you have a long-term condition you are twice as likely to be admitted to hospital as people without. To help prevent this happening, it’s important you learn how to look after yourself.
Education Programmes for Patients (EPP Cymru) offers a free six-week course (one two-and-a-half hour session per week) to teach people with long-term conditions how to cope at home.
The course will help you to deal with any anger, fear and frustration you may be experiencing, and will help you cope with pain, tiredness, depression and stress. There is advice on healthy eating, relaxation techniques, exercise and how to talk to people, including health professionals, about your condition. The aim is to increase your confidence and encourage you to feel in control of your life again.
The courses are run throughout Wales by volunteer tutors who have personal experience of living with a long-term health condition.
Caring for someone with a long-term condition
Looking After Me is a six-week course (one two-and-a-half hour session per week) to help you find ways of looking after your own health while caring for someone else. You do not need to have a long-term condition yourself to take part.
For more information about both courses contact your local EPP Cymru Co-ordinator.
Adaptations and daily living aids
Over time, you may find you need adaptations to your home so that you can continue living there safely and independently. You may also need certain daily living aids to make life easier.
If you have a long-term condition, you won’t be charged VAT on certain products and services. For more information visit www.gov.uk.
Support from others
Many charities now run online forums where people with the same long-term conditions can talk to and support one another.