According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 80 percent of Americans 65 and older live with some form of chronic illness (pdf) – heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, arthritis, stroke, anxiety, osteoporosis and more.
These conditions can cause years of pain, disability, loss of function and independence – not to mention early death. So far, at age 70, I’ve been lucky to avoid these, but I know from email and comments over the years at this blog that many readers live with one and sometimes several of these conditions.
By 2030, the population of 65-plus elders will nearly double to 70 million which will put a lot of pressure on the health and medical establishment. That means we all need to educate ourselves to deal with as many health issues for ourselves as is reasonably possible. Physicians just won’t have the time we would like to spend with us.
Now, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) has come to the rescue with Better Choices, Better Health – a free, online workshop to help people manage chronic conditions.
This is no checklist or brochure to read in a couple of minutes and toss in the round file. It is an online, six-week, comprehensive program developed and tested by the Stanford University Patient Education Center which has been used for some years in the U.S. and internationally with an excellent success rate.
The workshop is led by trained facilitators who, themselves, live with chronic conditions. It can be accessed from any computer – broadband is not necessary to fully participate. Here is a description from the NCOA of the six-week course:
“A pair of trained peer facilitators moderate each workshop. Each week, participants are asked to log on at least three times for a total of about two hours.
“Weekly activities include reading and interacting via the Learning Center, making and posting a weekly action plan, participating in problem solving and guided exercises on bulletin boards, and participating in any appropriate self-tests and activities.
“Participants are encouraged to post chronic disease-related problems on a bulletin board and help other group members with their problems.”
There is a book involved with the workshop, Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions, 3rd Edition, which is mailed free to each registrant.
Better Choices, Better Health is an extraordinary opportunity to learn the skills and techniques needed to manage condition(s), lead a more active life and make informed treatment decisions.
Here are the links you need:
• Learn More here and here [pdf]
• NCOA Better Choices, Better Health Overview page
There is, as we know, a lot of health and medical information on the web. But it is scattered, often dubious and you are not going to find anything as comprehensive and targeted as this NCOA workshop with experienced leaders and a chance to interact with others who share your concerns.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Terry Hamburg: What’s in a Name