Learn to Live Better with a Chronic Condition
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Learn to Live Better with a Chronic Condition

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January 13, 2012

Do you have an ongoing health problem such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or arthritis?

If so, you're not alone. More than 90% of adults aged 55+ have at least one chronic condition, and 73% have at least two.

Living with a chronic health condition can be overwhelming. Pain, fatigue, and the stress of managing multiple medications and trips to the doctor can make day-to-day life a real struggle. Often, it can lead to anxiety and depression.

"Every day was a fight to make sense of my existence," says Laura of Newport, OR, who has lived with asthma and diabetes for 25 years. "I was overwhelmed by things that used to be routine—laundry, cleaning the apartment, and shopping for groceries. I felt like I had lost my ability to contribute to society in a tangible way."

See how you can Restart Living

The good news is that Laura, and thousands of others like her, found a path back to a healthier life through a six-week workshop developed and tested by Stanford University.

The workshop teaches self-management—or the skills and knowledge you need to take better care of yourself. It's available in hundreds of communities at spots like senior centers, libraries, and churches. And it's available online.

Volunteer leaders, many of whom also have health problems, guide the workshops and provide support. Participants meet regularly and help each other learn how to:

  • Deal with frustration, fatigue, pain, and isolation
  • Maintain and improve strength, flexibility, and endurance
  • Eat well, exercise, and manage medications
  • Communicate more effectively with family, friends, and health professionals.

4 ways to get started

How do you know if this workshop is right for you? A new website from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) can help.

It's called RestartLiving.org, and it's completely free and confidential. Simply visit RestartLiving.org and take four steps to get started:

  1. See if a workshop is right for you.
    Answer five simple questions, and the site will help you decide if a self-management workshop is right for you. It takes just three minutes to see if you're ready.

  2. Learn how it works.
    Watch two short videos to see what the workshops are all about. One video focuses on the in-person workshops, and the other explains the online workshops.

  3. Find a workshop.
    The site makes it easy for you to find an in-person workshop near you. Just click on your state to see what's available. Or, you can sign up for an online workshop and take the class from the convenience of your own home.

  4. See success stories.
    Read stories of real people who have taken the workshop and are now living healthier lives. Says Laura of Oregon: "The six-week course exposed me to new ways of thinking about myself and the medical problems that affected my life. [It] gave me new strategies for keeping depression and pain at bay, ways to relax my mind and body, and eye-opening ideas about exercise that I could do."

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Living with diabetes?

Learn how to cope with your symptoms and live better. Sign up for a FREE online workshop.

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Coping with a chronic condition?

See how to Restart Living now. Our workshops help you learn how to eat well, exercise, manage your symptoms, and live better.