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LIVING WELL WITH CHRONIC CONDITIONS

 

Did you know:

  • Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.
  • In 2005, almost half of all adults in the US had at least one chronic illness.
  • Most Americans will have one or more chronic conditions in their lifetime

What is a Chronic Condition?

Health problems can fall into one of two categories: “acute” or “chronic.”

An acute health problem comes on fast and doesn’t stick around for long.  Examples of acute health problems would be a cold, strep throat, appendicitis or a broken bone.  You know exactly what caused it and your doctor can usually cure it – surgery for appendicitis, a cast for a broken bone or antibiotics for strep throat.  Your job, as the patient, is to follow your doctor’s orders. 

A chronic condition, on the other hand, comes on slowly, over time, and doesn’t go away.  In most cases, there is no cure for a chronic health condition.  Heart disease, diabetes, arthritis or lung disease are all examples of chronic health conditions.  Unlike acute conditions, we don’t always know what caused the disease.  With emphysema, it could be caused by a lifetime of smoking.  With heart disease, it could be smoking, poor eating habits, lack of physical activity, genetics, or a combination of all of the above!  Sometimes a diagnosis is easy – for instance, your doctor knows you have heart disease because you had a heart attack – but, for the most part, diagnosing a chronic health condition can be a long, frustrating process.  And even with a diagnosis, we can’t always predict what course the disease will take.  Since there are no cures, treatment for a chronic condition usually focuses on managing the symptoms and preventing further damage.  Your job, as the patient, is to be an active partner in your own health care.  You and your doctor must work together to manage your condition and you must take responsibility for your daily management needs. 

Chronic health conditions can be overwhelming.  If you have one or more ongoing health concerns, or if you care for someone who does, you may have a lot of questions, fears and frustrations.  You may also need to learn new skills to continue leading a healthy, happy lifestyle.  We can help you! 

Living Well with Chronic Conditions Workshop:

The Living Well with Chronic Conditions workshop (also known as the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program) is a free six week workshop series developed by Stanford University to help people with one or more chronic condition learn new skills to self-manage their condition.  Participants learn ways to:

  • Set goals and solve problems
  • Communicate with healthcare providers, friends and family
  • Manage pain and fatigue
  • Deal with difficult emotions
  • Eat healthy and stay active
  • Make informed treatment decisions
  • Plan for the future
  • Live life to the fullest!

 

To see a full list of topics covered, click here (link to PDF of Workshop Overview Chart)

Any person with any chronic condition is welcome to attend a workshop.  This is also an excellent resource for people who may not have a chronic condition themselves, but care for or are close to someone who does. 

The Living Well with Chronic Conditions workshop does not focus on any one disease.  People with any and all chronic conditions attend together and learn that, while their conditions are different, their experiences in dealing with them are largely the same.  In this way, participants learn new self-management skills in a supportive, encouraging environment. 

Frequently asked questions:

Is this a support group?

Not exactly.  While participants do support and encourage one another, the Living Well with Chronic Conditions workshop teaches new skills to deal with any and all chronic conditions.  Class time is structured with mini-lectures and activities to help reinforce the skills taught in the workshop. 

Can I bring a friend/family member/significant other?

Absolutely!  The skills we learn in class can help anyone, whether they have a chronic condition or not.  They can also help support people understand what it’s like to have a chronic condition.  Class size is limited, so everyone who plans on attending needs to register for a spot. 

Is this workshop effective?

Studies show that the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (or Living Well with Chronic Conditions, in Utah) consistently results in reduced fatigue, more exercise, fewer social limitations, better psychological well-being, improved relationships with physicians, improved health status and greater self-efficacy.  Several studies have also shown fewer emergency room visits, fewer hospitalizations and fewer days spent in the hospital.  Participants are also able to maintain their health and behavior improvements over time. 

Most importantly, participants enjoy participating in the workshops.  Past participants have commented that the workshop gave them a reason to get out of bed, people to socialize with and more confidence in their own ability to overcome their health issues. 

How can I sign up for a class?

For information on upcoming workshops at the Weber-Morgan Health Department, please call:  
Rochelle - 801-399-7187 or
Arlena - 801-399-7189   

To see a list of upcoming workshops state-wide, please visit: http://health.utah.gov/arthritis/