Coping and Support

People living with chronic wounds typically have other medical conditions that affect their everyday life. Congestive heart failure and diabetes are just two examples, as are any diseases that may keep them bedridden or wheelchair-bound. People with ulcers and chronic wounds can face many challenges, including:

  • Pain
  • Altered or limited mobility
  • Sleep disorders
  • Difficulties maintaining body hygiene
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of frustration
  • Social isolation

For these reasons, a chronic wound or ulcer can be psychologically stressful for a person as well as for their families, friends and caregivers. For the person with the condition, they may have thoughts and feelings about:

  • Having a low level of control over their condition
  • Being unable to predict how long and how severe their wound will be
  • Seeing the wound as proof that things are getting worse or that they are “falling apart”
  • Having few outlets for their frustration
  • Not having enough social support

In spite of these challenges, many people do adjust to living with a chronic wound. Those people who do best tend to do one or all of the following:

  • Cope by comparison—that is, they emphasize the positive aspects of their own lives compared with those less fortunate
  • Focus on feeling healthy in spite of the wound
  • View the condition as part of the ageing process and adjust their expectations accordingly
  • Simply be positive

If you have a chronic wound or are at risk for a chronic wound, you can help yourself by doing the following:

Venous leg ulcer:

  • Wear your stockings every day
  • Exercise regularly. Walking is all it takes, as compression bandages and stockings work best when you move. If you are less mobile, exercise your leg muscles by moving your foot up and down at the ankle
  • When you sit, keep your legs raised by putting your feet on a stool or chair

Diabetic foot ulcer:

  • Check your feet regularly for small cuts and sores. These can grow into large wounds. Use a mirror or ask your partner to help if you can’t see the bottoms of your feet
  • If you already have a wound on your foot, see your doctor about special footwear to take the pressure off the spot. Don’t continue to walk on the wound, even if you can’t feel pain

Pressure ulcer:

  • Remove the source of pressure from the affected area. If you lack the mobility or strength to do so, have someone help you adjust your position frequently

All types:

  • If you smoke, stop
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. If you’re overweight, do what you can to lose weight
  • Ask your doctor for a referral to a wound-care specialist

 People with chronic wounds or leg ulcers can find additional support online. The Canadian Association of Wound Care has information and resources that can help.

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