A substantial proportion of the American population suffers from the impact of chronic illnesses (Mauk, 2013). Effects of such diseases tend to exacerbate as a person ages and can result in a wide range of problems in various spheres of life of older people. A family of a person of advanced age who suffers from a chronic illness has to realize that there is a need for continuous adaptation efforts (Dobbie & Mellor, 2008, p. 583). The aim of this paper is to explore the impact of chronic illnesses on individuals and nursing interventions in the following categories: physical health, social life, psychological status, family relationships, and employment.
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Chronic illnesses are associated with the ongoing deterioration of physical health; therefore, nursing practitioners have to remember that in their attempt to address a medical problem they will have to overcome substantial barriers raised by issues such as pain, difficulty in hearing, and deterioration of vision among others (Mauk, 2013). Learning plays an extremely significant role in gerontological nursing; however, education of older adults might be severely hindered by the presence of physical health problems.
Chronical illnesses also might disrupt social lives of people due to numerous obstacles to social participation. Older adults suffering from chronical illnesses find it difficult to contact family members and take part in cultural activities. As a chronic disease progresses, people tend to reduce their involvement in a public sphere and instead opt for staying in their comfort zones. This tendency might have a negative effect on a nursing intervention since it reduces patients’ ability to adopt new behaviors that might be required for their treatment (Dobbie & Mellor, 2008).
Psychological status of individuals having some type of chronic illness might also suffer to a great extent. It has to do with a fact that chronically ill people experience significant stresses and strains that often result in “changes in their philosophy towards life, and the meaning of their role within life” (Dobbie & Mellor, 2008, p. 585). Older adults with chronic conditions are often “feeling increasingly negative towards themselves and their abilities” (Dobbie & Mellor, 2008, p. 585), which might hinder the ability of a nursing practitioner to help them.
Family relationships is another domain of geriatric patients’ lives that get affected by the presence of a chronic illness. Not all family members such as parents, spouses, and siblings are able to meaningfully engage with a chronic disease. Their inability to manage the results of a dysfunctional family process might result in the disruption of families and deterioration of patients’ health. Moreover, the lack of family involvement prevents health care professionals from effectively dealing with an illness (Dobbie & Mellor, 2008).
Chronical diseases often create psychomotor barriers to gainful employment. Due to decreased mobility and severe cognitive declines older adults with chronic conditions might lose their jobs. The decreased ability to analyze information that can become a reason for termination of employment relationship also prevents patients from “calculating medication doses, interpreting information given by healthcare providers, and making life and death decisions” (Dobbie & Mellor, 2008, p. 134).
Chronic illnesses might introduce sever disruptions in older adults’ lives and prevent health care professionals from effectively addressing health problems. They affect people on the following levels: physical health, social life, psychological status, family relationships, and employment.
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Dobbie, M., & Mellor, D. (2008). Chronic illness and its impact: Considerations for psychologists. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 13(5), 583-590.
Mauk, K. L. (Ed.). (2013). Gerontological nursing: Competencies for care (3rd ed.). Woods Hole, MA: Jones & Barlett Learning.