Alert
Close

Tell your senator to end the gridlock and renew the Older Americans Act now. Learn more

HIGHLIGHTS

Open
AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy

AARP REALPAD

The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More

AARP VETERAN MEMBERSHIP

Military and Veterans Discount

CONTESTS AND SWEEPS

AARP’s Picture Your Retirement Sweepstakes

Enter the $50K Picture Your Retirement Sweepstakes. Ends 8/31/15. No purchase necessary. Enter for Official Rules.

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Virginia

Managing Chronic Illness

Workshops pair health care professionals with people who speak from their own experience

Virginia manage chronic health

Colleen Turner, coordinator for You Can! Live Well, Virginia!, and Will Clayton, a volunteer, lead a workshop in the six-week program that helps people learn how to manage their chronic illness. — Photo by Matt Roth

Will Clayton knows all too well the physical and psychological toll of a chronic disease.

Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy three decades ago, Clayton, 58, of Fairfax, retired on disability eight years ago and uses a wheelchair scooter and a specially equipped van.

See also:  Lack of care coordination leads to medical errors.

"I still have depression states from time to time," said Clayton, who also has diabetes. But he no longer sees himself as mostly reacting to his problems. He feels proactive, often starting sentences with, "As a self-manager, I … " And he has learned how to handle the bleak periods.

For his sense of empowerment, Clayton credits You Can! Live Well, Virginia! The six-week workshops give people the information and tools they need not to just deal with chronic conditions, but to thrive in spite of them.

For example: Someone who has trouble remembering whether she's taken her medication learns to keep them on one shelf before she takes the day's dosage and to move them to a different shelf afterward. Someone who feels depressed learns to recognize negative thoughts and to substitute positive ones. "I can't do anything" becomes "I may not be able to do everything I used to do, but there are still lots of things I can do." Someone suffering stress learns to practice deep breathing and meditation.

"The class teaches you that there are more things you can do," Clayton said.

Clayton felt isolated before, but he learned by taking the workshop that others are in the same boat. He had dreamed earlier in life of teaching but thought his health conditions had closed the door. Leading the workshop has given him a sense of renewed possibilities and lifted his mood, he said.

Developed by Stanford University's School of Medicine as the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, the workshops are offered in nearly every state, usually free, in many foreign countries and online. Generally run by state departments of aging, the workshops go by various names, including Living Well With Chronic Conditions, Healthier Living, Living Healthy, and Help Yourself to Health. Stanford's Patient Education website lists organizations licensed to offer the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, state-by-state.

In 2 1/2-hour live sessions once a week, participants learn to:

  • Handle fatigue, stress, depression and isolation.
  • Communicate effectively with family, friends and health care providers.

A pair of facilitators leads each workshop — usually a trained health professional and a layperson who can speak from experience about chronic disease. The pairing makes all the difference, participants and leaders say.

Next: Not just another support group. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait
Advertisement

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members can earn 50 points per $1 spent on select health & wellness products at Walgreens.

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members can save 20% on hearing aids with the AARP® Hearing Care Program provided by HearUSA.

Eye Med 4 Membership Benefit AARP Discount

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at Target Optical.

Membership Benefits Discounts Email Genius

Brain boost? Get AARP email for access to memory exercises & more that help you focus.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points

Advertisement