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5 Ways You Can Make a Difference in Your Health on Chronic Disease Day

Hundreds of thousands of Americans suffer from unpreventable and costly chronic and rare conditions. But the deadliest and costliest chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and obesity, are also the most preventable. According to the Centers for Disease Control, half of American adults have at least one chronic health condition and 25 percent of Americans have multiple chronic illnesses, and that number rises to 75 percent of adults aged 65 and older. It has been estimated that chronic disease accounts for 86 percent of the nation’s $2.7 trillion annual health care expenditures.

Access to medical care is often financially prohibitive for many Americans with chronic illness. Awareness, prevention and personal accountability can reduce the number of chronic disease related deaths and lower the cost of unnecessary care. It’s up to all of us to get involved. Here are five ways you can make a difference on Chronic Disease Day:

1. Exercise and get proper nutrition

A proper breakfast, lunch and dinner combined with appropriate exercise can give you a healthier, longer life. Know what foods will best to fuel your daily routine and choose physical activities that are right for your body.

2. Address physical and psychological effects of chronic disease

Chronic illness comes with a range of visible and invisible symptoms that can impact your self-esteem. Individuals with chronic illness often must manage fatigue, pain, depression or frustration. Thankfully, many mood disorders such as anxiety or depression are tremendously treatable. Use the following checklist to identify sources and signals of stress. Seek help from a mental health provider as early as possible to understand and cope with your illness better.

3. Build a positive support system

Supportive relationships help individuals with chronic illness live longer lives and experience better well-being. Friends and loved ones can make you more resilient in times of stress or setback and will help make good times better. Build a support system at your own pace and in a way that feels right for you. Your support system can include anyone who can guide, teach and challenge you in a way that you are comfortable with. It can include teachers, spiritual advisors, community elders, or health care professionals such as physicians, nurses and other health care providers, mental health workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, and caregivers.

4. Offer support to a person with chronic illness you know

It is nearly a guarantee that one or more of your family or friends suffer from a chronic disease. One in four Americans have multiple chronic conditions that require ongoing medical attention or limit daily living. That number rises to three in four Americans aged 65 and up. Everyday tasks can be difficult to manage with chronic illness – offer support for loved ones however you can, whether it is spending more time together or running small errands for them.

5. Be prepared for upcoming travel

Planning a summer trip can be hectic enough – add a chronic illness and a travel can be downright daunting. When traveling with a chronic illness, it’s best to keep a written copy of your medical history. Also, be sure to know where your local hospital will be at the places you visit, just in case. Check this travel checklist with suggestions to help you pack.

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