If you have trouble following doctors' instructions, or are especially anxious in healthcare settings, consider bringing someone with you to the doctor's office, hospital, and pharmacy. "It's always good to have someone else there to help you navigate that information," says Wolf. "Bring a family member or a friend [to act] as a support and a surrogate."
Unrelenting Treatment. Chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes require long-term or lifelong management, often involving difficult medication routines that can be exhausting to maintain. For those with type 1 diabetes, for example, self-managed treatment is a pervasive fact of life that demands constant attention (read a profile of a patient). Not surprisingly, those with chronic conditions are thought to be at high risk for medication nonadherence.
For some chronic conditions, drugs that are prescribed to prevent long-term worsening of the illness may not offer immediate relief—or, as in some cases of hypertension, there may be no symptoms in need of relief. Either way, a patient may find it hard to stick to a daily drug regimen. In other cases, a patient may feel better soon after beginning a treatment plan but mistakenly assume, without consulting a doctor, that the improvement is a sign that treatment can end.
In these situations, social support networks can be an invaluable. Robin DiMatteo, a professor of psychology at the University of California Riverside, recommends having a family member, friend, or neighbor call or visit frequently to offer encouragement. If you live alone or away from friends, or lack a strong support network, consider joining a community or hospital-based support group. "Make up for not having available help from others by seeking it out," says DiMatteo.