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What is Chronic Disease? Improve Patient Care With Knowledge!

There’s an epidemic sweeping this country. It’s one that affects nearly half of all American adults and accounts for seven out of the top ten causes of death in the U.S. Those are pretty staggering numbers! So what exactly is this problem facing us today? Chronic disease.

What is Chronic Disease?

According to National Health Council, the term chronic disease is defined as a serious health condition lasting three months or longer. A few conditions classified as a chronic disease include:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity

While some chronic diseases can’t be completely prevented, there are certain high risk behaviors that contribute to the possibility of an adult becoming ill. For example, smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, and alcohol put all at an increased risk for developing one or more chronic diseases as we age.

The Prevalence of Chronic Disease

According to the latest research, an estimated 117 million people in the U.S. suffer from at least one chronic disease. Even more shocking is the fact that about one out of four American adults have two or more conditions falling into this category. This means that someone dealing with cancer may also be diagnosed with heart disease and arthritis. Imagine going through life managing multiple chronic diseases, while anticipating that the slightest misstep may send you to the hospital.

The Cost of Chronic Disease

This pandemic overtaking our nation is not only causing widespread health issues, but also contributes to the majority of health care costs including hospitalizations. In fact, nearly 90 percent of the total amount of health care spending in 2012 was for patients with one or more chronic disease.

It’s not just the big players like cancer that gobble up the health care budget. The underlying issues contributing to the disease also cut into spending. Take obesity, for example. While identified as chronic disease, it also contributes to other chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Medical costs for people who are obese tend to soar almost $1500 higher annually than those with healthy weights.

Caring for Patients Chronic Disease

The rising number of those diagnosed, medical costs, and death rates associated with chronic disease is also effecting home care providers. People suffering from one or more of these conditions must learn to live differently than they’re accustomed to. While continuing to live at home, those with chronic disease are managing their conditions and dealing with major lifestyle modifications. They are giving up old habits and managing diet and activity restrictions.

Because most of these patients are elderly, they may also suffer from declining mental faculties—meaning they may not be mentally able to manage multiple medications or complete personnel care activities.

Caregivers tending to patients with chronic diseases need to understand disease progression, treatments and be capable of providing much more than routine care. They need to be fully equipped to help these patients readjust their lives and more easily manage multiple diseases.

The Benefits of Chronic Disease Education

There’s no way around it—modern people are living longer, but not healthier. Medical advances have increased life span, but quality of life has decreased as a result of unhealthy behaviors. This means it’s more important than ever for homecare aides to participate in chronic disease education. Here are a few benefits of this type of advanced training:

  • Reduced patient hospitalizations
  • Increased ability to provide specialized care
  • Opportunity to meet a major need of the Baby Boomer generation
  • Ability for homecare organizations to offer advanced services and increase profits
  • Allows agencies to care for a wider variety of clients

Kenyon HomeCare Consulting’s Aide University gives homecare organizations and aides the tools they need to rise to the challenge of chronic disease care. Our program increases the value of your aides and reduces overall health care costs for your patients. To learn more, visit our information page or contact us today!

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