Expert Guidance

4 Communication Tips for People Living With Chronic Conditions

Designer Creative - Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Have you ever tried explaining your condition or symptoms to a friend or family member only to meet blank stares or rolling eyes? There isn’t much we can do about those who refuse to try to understand your circumstances; however, there are a few techniques you can use to bridge the gap between you and those who want to understand and seemingly cannot.


1. Speak plainly.

It can be overwhelming to start talking about your symptoms, but try to avoid being vague. You may think some of your symptoms are embarrassing or gross, but you must be honest, especially with your healthcare provider, or the severity of your condition could get brushed off. If a friend asks you how or in what ways you can be helped, be specific with your answer: “Could you take out the garbage?”


2. Be patient but assertive.

Comprehending the causes and pains associated with your symptoms near the level you feel them can take some time and dedication. It is critical to remain respectful as you describe your symptoms. At the same time, avoid using “you” sentences where your speech may indicate the other person is to blame. Focus on using “I” statements even when the other person has made you angry: “I feel frustrated by my lack of willpower when I smell food I shouldn’t eat. I also feel disrespected when you bring good-smelling food around me that I cannot eat.”


3. Try the spoon theory.

Plain language won’t work for some. For example, if you’re trying to describe your limitations to children, it may be easier to use a basic metaphor with which they can relate, like the spoon theory. Draw comparisons to the other person’s life so he or she can more easily form connections.


4. Understand the other party.

There are many individuals who have not had a lot of life experience and simply do not have the empathetic capacity to see the world from complex viewpoints. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do in these situations to help them understand the details of your condition.


Finally, ask yourself if the person you’re trying to talk with seems to care. This is no doubt one of the hardest truths to face when examining friendships. But having people in your life who do not seem interested in helping you cope with your chronic condition can be toxic to your mental well-being.


Does your friend


  • - change the subject when you bring up your condition, symptoms or goals?
    • - seem to give you false or empty encouragement?
    • - tell you not to worry?
  • - give you “solutions” without knowing the intricacies of your illness?
  • If you answered “yes” to these questions, you may be relying on the wrong person to help you cope with your chronic condition. That’s not to say you cannot have a relationship with this person, but you need to realize that he or she may not have the ability to give the support you want and need.
  • For more techniques to communicate about chronic conditions, sign up for a free Chronic Disease Self-Management Course – no insurance required. Many health departments and health centers across Southeast Missouri are starting courses throughout the summer.



Let’s Get Physical: How Those With Arthritis Can Work Out

Designer Creative - Sunday, April 30, 2017

No excuses

 Believe it or not, even those with arthritis or other rheumatic conditions benefit from regular physical activity. Research shows that those who participate in moderate-intensity, low-impact exercises have less pain, better movement control and a happier, healthier life.


Get your heart pumping

Cardio or aerobic activities that make your heart beat faster and increase your breathing do wonders for your lungs and heart. Consistent aerobic exercise will help you move better, could improve joint discomfort and boost bone density, all without worsening your symptoms or disease severity.


Low-impact cardio activities to try


-Brisk walks

-Cardio machines


To reach a safe and moderate-intensity workout, use the talking test. If you are moving so much talking takes too much work, you should lower your effort level. Remember, even ten minutes of moderate-intensity exercise is better than nothing.


Strength and balancing activities

If you are prone to falling, you should consider adding activities that improve balance to your exercise regiment. At least three days per week, warm up for cardio by stretching and practicing balancing techniques.


Balancing exercises

-Balancing on one foot

-Tai chi

-Heel-to-toe walking


Health departments/centers across Southeast Missouri are hosting workshops designed to help those with arthritis or limited mobility enjoy a more active lifestyle. You will learn even more endurance activities, balancing exercises, stretches and relaxation techniques.

Find your location and register for a class today.



This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,754,999 with 0 percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit

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