Chronic illnesses increase the chances of spending the holidays alone
Suffering from a chronic illness increases the chances of suffering from isolation and depression, and of spending the Christmas holidays in solitude, often unwanted
Many people who are far from their loved ones cannot travel to spend the Christmas holidays with them. But there are also many people who have no one to celebrate them with or cannot because they are disabled by the disease they suffer. Or, even sadder, they prefer not to be a burden to their loved ones and spend these days in solitude, when the media fill us with Christmas and emotional messages. While it is true that, in most cases, loneliness is unwanted. According to scientific evidence, physical and emotional loneliness in chronic patients is mainly caused by the scarcity of economic resources, the difficulty of accessing the social and health resources of the public system, and residing in a rural environment.
The grief of being a chronic patient
The National Health Survey (ENS) shows that 89.5% of people aged 65 or over have some chronic illness or health problem and that this figure increases as age increases, reaching 96.5% for those over 85 years of age.
In turn, studies indicate that the prevalence of a picture of anxiety or depression is 23% if you have a chronic disease and that it can reach 41% if you live with five or more chronic pathologies.
The diagnosis of a chronic pathology is lived as if the world fell on top of us , it is like a duel. You can lose self-esteem, the future is foreseen up to that moment, suffer despair, anger with yourself or with your family, isolation, apathy and rumination of the process until you come to accept this new reality.
All of this can lead to an added problem, “a mental illness,” says Dr. Isidoro Rivera. This primary care doctor is one of the managers of Semergen Patients, but he also suffers from COPD and is the coordinator of the National Association of Patients with COPD (APEPOC).
The importance of receiving emotional support
The ‘ Study on the impact of disability or chronic illness on the elderly and their families ‘, prepared by the Platform of Patient Organizations (POP) determines that the main sources of emotional and social support for patients, especially the elderly , are family , as well as friends and patient organizations.
Likewise, this report reflects that the duration of the disease, the deficit of socio-sanitary resources, the social stigmatization of certain health problems, gender, and the situation of loneliness of chronic patients are some of the factors that most affect their emotional impact.
The economic cost of the disease
This is the case for many of our COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) patients. Our most vulnerable patients, those who need to be plugged into a medically prescribed device for 15 hours in order to breathe, cannot take it anymore with the indifference of political and social representatives.
The consequences of the rise in the price of electricity have had a huge impact on the economy of the most vulnerable electrodependent healthcare patients, such as people with COPD and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
In addition, we must consider the possible cost of heating, unaffordable for the majority of our patients, who spend these holidays wrapped in blankets.
Recommendations for chronically lonely patients
In spite of everything, and although the prices are through the roof, from here we want to send you a message of encouragement and some recommendations:
- try to prepare a healthy meal.
- take a walk enjoying the Christmas atmosphere.
- say hello to the neighbors.
- call a relative or friend that we have neglected lately.
- read some good books.
- re-watch a movie that we have always liked.In short, look for the enjoyment of the small detail (not expensive), which can give us a feeling of well-being and relaxation.