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Community-based workshops help patients manage chronic illness

Living with a chronic illness can be a hassle at best. And at its worst, chronic disease can leave patients feeling powerless and depressed as they face pain, fatigue, isolation, and an inability to do the things they could once do.

Now, according to an article in the AARP Bulletin, almost every U.S. state is offering workshops designed to empower the chronically ill and help patients deal with the unique challenges of building a new life around chronic illness. Originally developed at Stanford, personalized statewide programs like You Can! Live Well Virginia! help patients thrive despite their conditions. Services range from helping patients with medicine compliance to workshops on avoiding isolation via connection with others with similar experiences:

"People see that someone like them is living successfully with a chronic condition," said April Holmes, coordinator of prevention programs for older adults in the Virginia Department for the Aging. "It can be inspirational."

Although chronically ill patients spend more time than average in the hospital system, the majority of their time is still spent in the "real world." Programs like Virginia's are designed to complement generalized medical advice with community-based tools that patients can use to manage their everyday lives. Given that 8 out of 10 of all older Americans have a chronic disease, the benefits of helping these patients connect with and support one another are obvious.

Previously: Rules for living with a chronic illness, Treating joint pain with physical activity, self-management programs, Free self-management program offered to people with chronic illness and Lawmaker proposes Medi-Cal coverage of Stanford chronic-disease program

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