By K W Warburton, The Reluctant Spoonie

Living independently can be a challenge for any twenty-something. Add a chronic illness into the mix and you may think that it is impossible. By living independently, I mean living in your own space and not with family. You may be in a shared house/ flat or living with your significant other where you are responsible for your own bills, laundry, groceries etc. These chores can be a challenge depending on the nature of your illness or energy levels.

Here are my 5 top tips for thriving as an independent adult with a chronic illness:

1 . Set days for doing housework

independent living with chronic illness
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If you don’t plan it, then you won’t do it. My brain fog makes me forget to do basic things, so I have set days in the week when I do laundry, scrub the toilets etc. You may only be able to set one day per week for these chores or you may want to pace yourself and spread the time across the week and do an hour per day. Laundry and dirty dishes will quickly pile up, so make a plan on how you want to tackle them before they do.

Plan your week using this fridge whiteboard

2. Budget like a pro

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Chronic illness comes with additional expenses. I live in the UK, where healthcare is ‘free’ however, there are still things that I have to pay for myself such as prescriptions (now £9 per item), doctors notes (approx £25 each) and things that I can’t get on the NHS such as physiotherapy. By and large, I can predict these expenses and incorporate them into my annual budget. I always set aside £500 per year for miscellaneous expenses that may arise for my healthcare need. For example, this year I needed to start a new treatment for my TMJ that was not available on the NHS.

3. Invest in labour saving appliances

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There are many appliances that can do the work for you. A dishwasher will save you from standing over the sink for long periods of time and a slow cooker will save you from standing over a hot pan. If you have the space in your kitchen then I would recommend investing in a few of these products. You can also buy pre-chopped food items if you find that chopping vegetables to be too strenuous for you. There’s no shame is buying pre-prepared food if that works best for you. Pre-shredded cheese can be a lifesaver.

The slow cooker that I use (Morphy Richards)

4. Ask for help with big things

independent living with chronic illness
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Living independently from family doesn’t mean that you can’t ask them for help from time to time. If you’re moving house, then you will probably need help with moving furniture from your friends/ family. Similarly, if you are going into hos[ital for an extended period of time, ask your family to help out by watering your plant or feeding your dog etc. whilst you’re away from home.

5. Get things delivered

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Can’t get to the shops? Get them to come to you. A game changer for me was getting my weekly groceries delivered which meant that I had more energy to do other things like start a blog!

Advice from those who live independently with chronic illness:

I used to let things pile up, but have since realized that doing a little here and there was better for me physically and mentally. I changed my attitude towards chores too; instead of thinking “I have to do it”, I think “I get to do it.”  ” – @fearlesslygutless

Being one step ahead is really helpful for me. I never know when I’ll have a day where I can’t do anything, so having some leeway (whether i’d be with chores, cooking, school, or work) is really helpful! I also automate everything I can: automatic bills, meal delivery services, DoorDash, grocery delivery, etc. And knowing when to let things be! It took me a long time to feel comfortable even if the house was dirtier than I’d like. You have to choose your battles! ” – @future.dead.person

Bulk cooking! Generally being organised or prepared. I make my break fast and break before bed ready for the morning because that is when I struggle most. I will try to space out jobs like 1 week I change bedding and the next I will Hoover. I don’t iron my clothes unless they really need it, I just hang them. A few creases isn’t the end of the world ” – @girlwiththechickentattoo

What are your top tips for living independently with a chronic illness?

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