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 a range of short courses to teach people with long-term conditions how to cope at home.
These free courses do not look at specific health needs but aim to give participants the confidence to take responsibility for their own health care while working in partnership with the health professionals who support them.
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.
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.