Submitted by Tammy Merendo, RN
Director of Community Education
Chronic Disease Self-Management
According to Stanford University, most of us will experience two or more chronic long-term illnesses during our lives. In the event that we don’t, it is still likely that we will provide care to someone that does.
Chronic health problems usually come on slowly unlike acute health problems. They can be things like heart disease, diabetes, depression, liver disease, bipolar disorder, emphysema, and many other conditions. These conditions may cause emotional distress, such as frustration, anger, anxiety, or a sense of helplessness.
It is important for the person who is suffering from a chronic condition, or the person who is trying to manage a chronic condition, understands the disease. There are often specific skills that are needed to deal with an illness. Some examples of skills that may be used include knowing what medications to take and how to take them, how to use oxygen or equipment like a C-pap machine, or how to check your blood glucose.
Finally, Stanford teaches us that people with chronic disease should know that you are not to blame. Chronic diseases are caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. You don’t have to handle it alone, in fact you shouldn’t. One of the side effects of chronic illness is a feeling of isolation. Support groups, talking with others on the phone, or even reading an article can be helpful.
Remember that you are more than your disease and sometimes illness can be an opportunity. Illnesses may make us slow down, evaluate what is really important, and cause us to shift our priorities. If you suffer from a chronic disease, I encourage you to become more informed on how you can self-manage your condition.
Stanford University’s Chronic Disease Self-Management Program is taught by trained peer leaders. The program requires some commitment as the classes are 2 ½ hours each and meet weekly for 6 weeks. Participants will learn specific tools to improve their quality of life. If you are a caregiver to someone that suffers from a chronic disease, you are also encouraged to attend this program to improve your quality of care.
For more information on this series of classes, call HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our NEW wellness center at 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.