Quality of Life #AtoZChallenge
If you are chronically ill or care for someone who is ill, you’ve likely heard the term quality of life. Do you really know what this means? As a normal healthy adult, we may take the concept of quality of life for granted, as many people do. You have the ability to work and play without necessarily have to plan around any physical or medical limitations you may have.
As someone with chronic illness, regardless of whether your challenges are medical, physical or both, you no longer have that ability. You likely have to plan each and every aspect of your day. You may no longer be able to work. You may not be able to spend time with your children and grandchildren as you would like. Simply taking a walk with your significant other while hand in hand may be nearly impossible.
Quality of life is a fluid, multi-faceted, assessment of a huge host of factors. These factors may include such things as mental and physical health, satisfaction of life, independence, social interactions, our acceptance of our limitations, and our own perception as to what constitutes a good quality of life. These factors frequently change depending upon your current situation and abilities.
Evaluating your quality of life should not be based solely on one specific factor, rather a broad overview of many aspects of your life. Despite being in pain, confined to a wheelchair, or only able to work part time, you may feel as if you are happy with your quality of life. The determination of what comprises a good or even acceptable quality of life is a complex and subjective process.
One example of how to be realistic in determining what you wish to change to improve your quality of life follows. Once, during a particularly bad episode of low back pain and sciatica which made it nearly impossible to walk without a cane, I was prescribed physical therapy. The therapist was exceptionally forthcoming and yet upbeat. She explained that we would not be able to correct the underlying problem but that we would likely be able to improve it.
She specifically asked what I felt would be realistic and attainable goals in order to improve my quality of life. I explained that I knew we would not be able to fix it, or even necessarily eliminate it, but I wanted two simple goals. At that point in time I was unable to wear anything but very loose fitting clothing seeing how a belt aggravated the low back and leg pain. I wanted to be able to wear regular pants with a belt. Secondly I wanted to be able to pick up my infant grandson without having to worry about dropping him due to me falling. We accomplished these goals by mitigating the pain and adjusting my actions to compensate for my limitations.
While the above example may sound super simplistic, improving your quality of life does not have to be a life changing alteration. Sometimes just learning to live within your limitations successfully can greatly improve your quality of life.
Have you discussed what you feel to be an acceptable quality of life with your medical team? Do you have a plan to ensure you can achieve your desired quality of life? What are some simple changes you can work towards to attempt to improve your quality of life?
Share your story and comments in the section below. We would love to hear from you about your thoughts on quality of life.