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Chronic illness past 40 is nothing to be shunned. When you are younger, some illnesses are generally more manageable. Yet as we get older, lifestyle and genetics can’t help but play catchup and can cause havoc to your health. Mid-life, it seems, isn’t without a sense of humor, as your issues can only worsen from there without proper medical attention, support, and self-care. So, here is some useful information and some suggestions for feeling better.
Note: This is not medical advice and should not be treated as such.
Why Self-Care is Vital in Your 40s
Healthcare, whether physical or mental, should be a top priority as you age. Practicing good self-care, from keeping up with appointments and addressing any conditions to exercising and maintaining personal hygiene, is vital. Some of the worst can affect your heart when you are young, so even learning about CPR through a service like the National CPR Foundation will help. Yes, the National CPR Foundation is legit and provides training for medical assistance.
The Top Four Chronic Illnesses
There are many chronic illnesses that most people experience. Some are more manageable than others and can come about via bad decisions. However, there are some that are genetic and out of your control. Some of the most common chronic conditions are as follows:
- Hypertension, aka high blood pressure, is one of the more serious issues.
- High cholesterol from smoking, drinking, and poor diet affects 25 million in the US.
- Coronary heart disease can be caused by stress and is related to hypertension.
- Diabetes is one of the most common chronic illnesses today worldwide.
These are pretty much the top four in the United States and other developed countries. Of course, there are some others worth mentioning, such as depressive and dementia disorders such as Bipolar and Alzheimer’s, as well as the various epileptic conditions on the rise.
How Chronic Illness Past 40 is Dangerous
Whether genetic or brought on by your lifestyle, any chronic illness is dangerous in your 40s. This is because your body stops working how it used to, and there are many changes that occur, kind of like adult adolescence. This can be worse for women before, during, and after menopause. Most of the chronic issues mentioned above happen because of lifestyle, such as drinking and smoking. One survey in the UK found that 34% of people got these at age 46.
Changes to Your Personality
Your brain goes through many changes as you age, and these can be based on medical factors, experiences, and how you live your life. Some have benefits, and others are harmful. A lifetime of anxiety, stress, and burnout from overworking will take its toll later in life. These can all add up to personality changes that are hard to reverse. You may have once been the happy guy at the office and are now the grumpy manager that nobody likes because you are always in pain.
Common Mental Health Issues
It is well-known that a long-term physical issue can affect the mental health of a patient. The changes brought on by chronic conditions can be damaging to your mental health just as much as the physical. Some of the most common issues that people with chronic issues face are increased depression, anxiety, and loneliness from social isolation. When you feel any of these, it is best to find support where you can, and there is more on that later on in this article.
Menopause and Chronic Illness
Menopause is a little different for all women. Some women seem to breeze through it, while others have a very hard time. Menopause can also be challenging if you have a chronic illness, and chronic issues can also arise from menopause itself. Research has found that women going through menopause are more likely to experience problems like back pain, migraines, and fibromyalgia, which causes painful sensations all over your body and your extremities.
How to Mindfully Cope with Chronic Illness
Many people in developed nations like the US and the UK live with common chronic pain and disease that causes great disruption in their lives. For most, daily pain is a common thing and causes severe physical and mental stress. But you can train your brain to help get you through:
- List what your illness stops you from doing and how you can overcome these.
- Be aware of and accept the limitations any illness places upon you.
- Find local and online support groups that deal specifically with your condition.
- Find peace during the day with mindfulness coaching or practicing meditation.
- Revamp your life to fit with managing your condition rather than making it worse.
- Practice saying positive affirmations to yourself that will help you get through it.
Some of these can help change your outlook and perspective as to how you perceive your condition. A common issue with women in their 40s is endometriosis, which can cause mental stress. Mind, body, and soul balance will help overcome those days that are more challenging.
Find Ways to Ease Your Mind
Not looking after your body will affect your mind. No one blames you for wanting to give up when the pain is severe. But there is always something you can do. Getting more active can help improve natural pain relief through dopamine and serotonin. Eating a healthier diet will also reduce inflammation and provide more energy. Cutting out bad habits such as drinking and smoking is guaranteed to help improve your life on so many levels it’s hard to list them here.
Change Your Lifestyle
Lifestyle plays a key role in managing chronic pain into your 40s. Maybe your issue is genetic and couldn’t be helped. But even then, there is no reason why you need to make it worse. However, it’s also likely your condition was caused by poor decisions. Any doctor will tell you that it’s never too late to stop smoking and start exercising. You will feel better with simple lifestyle changes, and this will drive you towards making positive changes and managing pain.
Making Your Life Better with Chronic Illness
One of the key things about chronic conditions is that they are often misunderstood by patients and those around them. A diagnosis isn’t a death sentence, and you can live a full and happy life with even the worst issues. For example, it isn’t uncommon for people with epilepsy to be isolated because they don’t want a public seizure. But shutting yourself away never helps. The best way to make your life better with an illness is to learn, educate, and understand it.
Support for Chronic Illness Past 40
There are many negative impacts of chronic pain, illness, and issues. Some of the most common ways people deal with them in a destructive manner are to turn to drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm, and avoiding the issue to try to cope. None of these will help, and the only way forward is to understand what your condition is. No one likes reading medical jargon that’s hard to understand. Many patients find peace through support networks with real people.
The Emotional Support You Need
A chronic illness can take its toll on your mental and emotional health. Emotional support is a highly effective method of coping with something, and there is always support available. Whether it’s online, face-to-face, or attending groups, some of the best options are as follows:
- Support groups offer excellent support because of shared experiences.
- Private counseling from mental health experts can provide extensive support.
- It can help to get the family or your partner involved in any support services.
- Be kind to yourself and understand the limits and boundaries of your own mind.
Depending on how you like to interact with people and even how much money you have, one or more of these are open to you. For instance, private counseling often isn’t free, but support groups typically are. If you prefer privacy, though, it may be best to pay for private counseling.
Consult Medical Experts and Take Advice
Above all, managing a chronic illness often depends on heeding the advice of medical experts. It can be tempting to go back to old habits or even feel defeated by an issue. But if humans are anything, we are resilient, especially when the odds are against us. If you have any questions or want advice, then don’t be afraid to ask your GP or nurse. Any good medical professional will be all too happy to help. And always bring up issues around mental health for extra support.
Self-care is vital when you need to manage a chronic illness past 40 because your body and mind can experience changes. This can be especially true of women before, during, and after menopause. Finding ways to ease your mind will also provide some benefits. But physically, some lifestyle changes may also be necessary. It can be overwhelming, so always ask any questions of your GP or nurse, and look for support where you can, either online or locally.