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Education Key to Living Life with Chronic Conditions
Missouri Ag Connection - 07/10/2018

According to the National Council on Aging, 80 percent of older adults have at least one chronic condition, and 68 percent have at least two. Often with conditions such as arthritis, lung, heart, mental diseases, etc. many have difficulty managing their conditions.

The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) developed by Stanford University - and offered in Missouri by University of Missouri Extension -- has been proven to provide participants with the knowledge to better manage their chronic conditions, improve their quality of life and reduce healthcare costs.

Chronic illness is any condition that develops and lasts over time. There is generally no cure. However, symptoms can be managed and complications avoided by making good choices on a daily basis and utilizing the healthcare system wisely.

Acute illnesses typically have a sudden onset and are short-lived. Some examples are a broken bone, cold or case of the flu. All can be diagnosed, and protocols exist, that when followed, ensure a positive outcome for the specific illness.

CDSMP workshops in southwest Missouri are taught by University of Missouri Extension specialists and trained CDSMP leaders in partnership with the Regional Arthritis Center, operated through Mercy Health System in Springfield.

Classes are taught over a six-week period, meeting once a week for 2.5 hours. Classes are open to individuals with a diagnosed chronic condition as well as caregivers and family members of those with a chronic condition.

Workshops are interactive and include participants creating and implementing weekly action plans. Actions plans that include activities based on something specific and measurable the individual wants to achieve during each week of the class. Accountability partners are chosen to check in and help problem solve when barriers are encountered or provide encouragement in achieving the action plan.

Workshop topics include communicating with family, friends, and healthcare team members regarding their condition; ways to become more physically active, improve nutrition and manage weight; managing medications and using medications properly; pain and fatigue management; how to evaluate new medications or treatment plans; and problem-solving strategies.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), participants who took a CDSMP demonstrated significant improvements in exercise, ability to do social and household activities, less depression, fear and frustration or worry about their health, reduction in symptoms like pain and increased their ability to manage their condition."

To find a class near you, call the local county University of Missouri Extension center or look online at either or

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