Living with a chronic condition
Many people, particularly as they age, can develop health conditions that are persistent, long-term and can impact their quality of life.
These conditions, often called chronic conditions, may not be life-threatening but may shorten a person's life span or reduce their quality of life.
Many chronic conditions are preventable by making healthier lifestyle choices.
If diagnosed with a condition, being actively involved in your own health care and partnering with your health providers and carers, can allow you to take charge of your life and live life to the fullest.
What is a chronic condition?
A chronic condition is an ongoing long-term illness that:
- occurs suddenly or gradually at any age, and is more common in senior years
- flares up from time to time
- affects your quality of life
- causes physical limitations or disability
- worsens over the years
- usually has many causes.
Some examples of a chronic condition include:
Stages of a chronic condition
There may be different stages for chronic conditions:
- well (no condition)
- at risk of developing
- high risk and complex
Depending on the stage, different approaches may apply.
You may be able to avoid developing a condition by adopting a healthier lifestyle.
However once diagnosed, there are many steps you can take to manage your condition and minimise the impact on your everyday life.
Managing your condition
On a daily basis, people living with a chronic condition already manage their conditions to varying degrees.
Being actively involved in managing your health can help you to:
- prevent a chronic condition, or detect it in its early stages
- prevent complications that can develop with a chronic condition
- recognise flare-ups of your condition early on and know what to do when they occur
- increase your self-confidence and awareness in maintaining a healthier lifestyle
- make fewer unplanned visits to the doctor, specialists, and other health care providers
- reduce pain which may lower your medication
- feel healthier and happier
- feel like you have control over your health.
Managing your condition involves:
- understanding your condition
- sharing in decision-making about your health
- following an agreed care plan
- monitoring and managing signs and symptoms
- managing the impact on your physical, emotional and social life
- adopting a healthy lifestyle
- having the confidence and ability to access community support services.
Actions you can take
- Ask questions when visiting your health care provider.
- Discuss your options, concerns and goals with your health care provider.
- Read and learn more about your condition from reliable sources.
- Talk to family and friends, and with other people with the same condition.
- Request a discharge summary after an emergency department or hospital admission.
- Decide your priorities and set realistic goals to live a healthier lifestyle.
- Talk with your doctor and other healthcare providers and decide what is best for you and your health.
- Review your approach to food, exercise, smoking and alcohol and adopt a healthier lifestyle.
- Attend a self-management program, a support group or community activity at your local council (external link).
- Prioritise the way you balance family, work, education and other things that are important to you.
- Choose health care providers who adopt a partnership approach and will support you to make healthy lifestyle changes.
- A chronic condition is a persistent long-term health condition and if not managed is likely to affect your quality of life.
- Healthy lifestyle choices can prevent chronic conditions. They can also reduce the impact of a chronic condition on your health and quality of life.
- If you are diagnosed with a chronic condition it is important that you are actively involved in making decisions about your health and health care.
Chronic Condition Self-Management Program
This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.