Why Schedules Are Important to Managing Chronic Disease

chronic diseases

When it comes to spicing up life, spontaneity might be the order of the day, however, when it comes to managing chronic illness, it’s a fixed schedule that can most effectively empower you or your loved one.

Daily schedules help to:

Provide Structure

A formalized routine which calls for daily activities like dressing, bathing, eating, brushing teeth, exercising, and toileting to be done at around the same time provides structure and security to anyone’s day, much less someone battling a chronic disease. While the unexpected may happen at any moment including flare-ups of symptoms, changes in appointments, and so on, it’s the reliability of a structured schedule which can help keep you grounded, less stressed, and on track.

Foster Medicine Adherence

The Mayo Clinic reports that approximately 50% of patients with chronic illness don’t actually take their medicine as prescribed. This leads to re-hospitalization, worsening of conditions, and even death. With natural time pegs for when things happen, schedules foster an environment where medicine is more regularly remembered and taken, helping patients with chronic illness stick to long-term pharmacotherapy treatments.

Tools like pill planners and organizers, as well as pill reminder apps can help patients and caregivers as well by making it easy to organize pills by dose and frequency, in addition to alerting patients with audible and visual messages when it is time to take medicine. The best pill organizers will featuring time of day and day of the week compartments, as well as helpful color coding and easy to open access tabs or dispensers.

Promote Activity

Looking to work in a half hour of exercise for you or your chronically ill loved one every day? Rather than playing it fast and loose with the idea of going for a walk, hitting the gym, or taking a yoga class, prioritize exercise by making it a fixed staple of the daily schedule.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares that in addition to lowering risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and obesity, daily physical fitness helps to strengthen bones and muscles, improves moods, lowers stress levels, and increases your own longevity. Depending on mobility levels, low-impact fitness ideas for people with chronic disease might include hiking, yoga, tai chi, swimming, cycling, tennis, or dancing.

Strengthen Care Networks

For older adults, especially those with chronic illness, relying on a network of family and friends who help provide care is critical. Care may come in the form of help refilling prescriptions and finding transportation to a doctor’s appointment, or more skilled nursing duties like feeding, toileting, and administering medicine. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, over 40 million caregivers currently live in the U.S. and help provide these types care for a loved one.

Not only can a solid schedule help caregivers better manage their own time and care for a loved one, but it allows care outliers like family members looking to pay a visit, or friends wondering how they can help, to more easily find a time and place to pitch in. Sites like CaringBridge and SignUpGenius offer free online sign ups and volunteer calendars to quickly recruit and coordinate care networks.

Aid Memory Loss

Conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia can rouse the unexpected everyday. Memory loss and trouble decision making can lead to anxiety, agitation, disorientation, and confusion. With a set routine in place for doing things each day around the same time, older adults with these types of debilitating conditions might find relief in the reliability.

Empowering you or your loved one’s own self-reliance by offering a sense of control and planning through a daily schedule can boost confidence and help commit routine activities to muscle memory. More flexible windows of time that are worked in daily for nondescript activities may allow for more meaningful interactions for someone with memory loss or dementia, boosting overall wellbeing too.

When it comes to managing a chronic illness, the work and guidance of medical professionals can only go so far. In the day to day grind of functioning at home successfully, working off of a fixed schedule can aid treatment plans, help patients stick to medicine regimens, stave off further illness, and empower care networks.