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Free programs to support chronic disease self management

If you suffer from a chronic disease and share the belief that misery loves company, you may be comforted in knowing that you have something in common with over 130 million other Americans. Some are afflicted by conditions including; high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, stroke and heart disease. Painfully, many deal with five or more diseases in combination.

Focusing on diabetes as one of the fastest growing diseases in America, UnitedHealth Group, contends that it is a: “time bomb ticking in America” and that “more than 50 percent of Americans could have diabetes or prediabetes by 2020.”

Whether chronic diseases are addressed collectively or independently, two facts are clear. Incidence levels are rising quickly and expanded prevention/care strategies are vital.

The good news is that many of the symptoms and lifestyle limitations you’re facing can be improved without additional medications and professional healthcare costs. You can protect and help restore your health by essentially extending a helping hand to yourself and engaging the support of family and friends.

To help direct the process of chronic disease self management (CDSMP), the Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a five-year study that documented the positive effects of; goal-setting, exercise, decision making, emotional control, sensible medication management and other lifestyle changes.

Ultimately, the Stanford-based tips and coping techniques have been packaged into workshops that help you develop personalized, step-by-step programs that help you better manage the issues created by your chronic conditions.

Since their introduction in the late 1990s, CDSMP workshops have been conducted throughout the US and within countries such as England, Denmark, Australia, Canada and Japan.

As the programs are “evidence based,” participants consistently report improvements in areas including; exercise/energy levels, a sense of self-control/wellbeing, stress and communications with physicians.

Conversely, reductions are also reported in; fatigue/health distress, shortness of breath, pain, depression/sleeplessness and need for healthcare interventions.

Through a grant to our local Area Agency on Aging, the Stanford-based “CDSMP” program will be offered as workshops throughout the 8-county region including; Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Will, Kane, Kankakee, Grundy and Kendall.

Described as “Take Charge of Your Health – Live Well, Be Well” workshops within Illinois, each 2 ½ hour workshop will meet once a week for a period of six weeks. One program at the Zion Park District is scheduled for Mondays (12 noon – 2:30 pm) July 11 – Aug. 8th. Contact Kevin Zaleski (847) 746-5500 for registration.

To get details on all workshops, please contact Debbie Scariano, at the Northeastern Illinois Agency on Aging (630) 293-5990

For those with restricted travel and work issues, a recent release by the National Council on Aging (Washington, D.C.) announced that a similar series of online workshops (“Better Choices, Better Health”) has also been established and is offered at no cost to participants.

Interactive participation is facilitated via a dedicated, secure Web site than can be accessed at any time; e-mail and message boards simulate the face-to-face sharing of ideas with other participants in site-based workshops.

Since only a limited number of openings are available, prospective participants should get more information / enroll as quickly as possible at: www.SelfManage.org

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