Living with chronic illness can be very challenging. This is especially the case among older adults. The illness can adversely impact their day to day lives and if not properly managed can result in a myriad of other health issues (Joachim & Acorn, 2016). Wellness, therefore, becomes an integral part of one’s life if healthy living is to be realized. Wellness is a state of one being aware of their choices and making those choices with the aim of achieving fulfilling and a healthy life. It goes beyond one being physically fit or free from any form of ailment. In my opinion, wellness in chronic illness is about one being in charge of their lives by managing their symptoms, energy, emotions and general well-being. Chronic illnesses are known to be persistent or long-lasting in their efforts and as such, can be quite overwhelming on the chronically ill (Joachim & Acorn, 2016). Examples of chronic illnesses include cancer and arthritis. Older adults are the most affected and considering their age, their wellness is crucial.
With regards to managing symptoms, it is often a challenge to find the right combination of medication. Keeping track of symptoms and calendar dates for hospital appointments becomes essential. Energy, on the other hand, ought to be managed especially due to the fatigue that comes with the chronic illness itself or medication (Joachim & Acorn, 2016). Most people, more so the older adults, are prone to fatigue if their energy is not well managed. On the other hand, managing emotions is equally important. Chronic illnesses may cause stress leading to an emotional surge with time. Stress, in most instances, affects one’s symptoms, and this can lead to more stress and depression. Eventually one may get depressed, and this is a global emotional concern that relates to chronic illnesses.
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Older adults are also prone to pain. Though pain has its effects on everyone regardless of age, its impact on older adults is more pronounced. This is so due to the poor management of pain which is usually attributed to the old age perception of pain and reluctance to seek medical intervention. The older adults, due to some reasons, are often unwilling to make much effort in managing their pain. The older adults have a reduced ability to cope with pain effectively. As a consequence of pain, therefore, the older adults experience reduced mobility, sleeping problems, as well as decreased socialization. Due to the pain that comes with movement, older adults tend to stay at a particular point for long. This affects their potential to engage in even basic activities. In some cases, they do not interact a lot with others and may often keep to themselves. The pain also makes them less interested in most activities they may have previously enjoyed.
There is equally the aspect of age-related changes that impact one’s cognitive and psychological thinking. While cognitive thinking is associated with one’s perceptions and awareness and psychological thinking more of mental aspects, both are often affected by certain changes that come with one’s age (Lin et al., 2013). In older adults, these changes are however more pronounced. Some of these changes include loss of hearing and memory loss. These changes are at times triggered by medication or the chronic illness itself. Some are triggered by certain environments that an older adult may have been for most of their lives. For instance, being in a noisy environment for a very long time may trigger a hearing loss.
- Joachim, G. L., & Acorn, S. (2016). Living with chronic illness: The interface of stigma and normalization. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research Archive, 32(3).
- Lin, F. R., Yaffe, K., Xia, J., Xue, Q. L., Harris, T. B., Purchase-Helzner, E., … & Health ABC Study Group, F. (2013). Hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults. JAMA internal medicine, 173(4), 293-299.