By Pamela Austin with help from the Administration for Community Living
Fully 80% of older adults have at least one chronic disease, such as diabetes, arthritis or high blood pressure. And more than 60% suffer from two or more of these conditions. Many seniors struggle to manage these chronic diseases. Finding joy and meaning in each day becomes harder when an individual is struggling with a chronic condition. Dealing with symptoms like pain, fatigue, stress and limited mobility can make day-to-day activities – grocery shopping, walking the dog or playing with the grandkids – harder.
April is Stress Awareness Month and offers a chance to look ahead and commit to adopting lifestyle choices that
ACL funds Chronic Disease Self-Management Education programs through the aging network in communities across the country. CDSME programs have been proven to help older adults gain control of their chronic disease symptoms so they can better maintain their independence and quality of life.
The programs address problem solving, goal setting, effective communication, healthy behaviors like physical activity, healthy eating, medication management and stress management. While these programs focus on older adults, anyone over the age of 18 can participate, including younger adults with disabilities.
Research has shown that when older adults and adults with disabilities learn how to successfully manage chronic conditions, they experience better overall health. They also experience less depression and fewer lifestyle limitations.
If you have been putting off addressing a chronic condition or are just not sure where to start, consider talking with your physician or medical insurance provider about literature or programs offered in our community. Living with and managing chronic conditions doesn’t have to mean limiting the things that bring joy to life. Commit now to improving your health and happiness!
The writer is the resource coordinator for the City of Alexandria’s Division on Aging and Adult Services.