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Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding Self-Management

+ What is self-management?

Self-management might sound complicated, but if you have an ongoing health condition, you're likely doing it every day – you're doing what's needed to live with your condition as best you can.

You take your medicine. You stay informed. You try to eat right and exercise. You talk with family and friends to get support.

The fact is, 95% of care for an ongoing health condition like high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, or heart disease takes place in our own homes and communities – not in doctor's offices, hospitals, or other health care settings.

But while we all "self-manage" our health, most of us can benefit from learning how to do it even better.

+ What are the benefits of better self-management?

Learning better self-management skills can help you:

  • Manage challenging health conditions by taking your medicines correctly, exercising more, eating better, and communicating more effectively with your family, doctors, and health care providers.
  • Deal with difficult symptoms such as pain, anxiety, and fatigue.
  • Cope with feelings related to your health condition, such as anger, fear, or uncertainty about the future.
  • Carry out normal activities such as chores, work, and socializing with friends and family.
  • Feel happier and more confident.

If you're one of the millions of Americans who struggle every day with health challenges, learning and practicing good self-management skills will help you live a better life. You'll be able to do the things you want to do and feel more in control of your life and your health.

+ Are there workshops or programs that can help me improve my self-management skills?

Yes! If you have a health condition such as high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or stroke, there are proven programs that can help you develop skills to better manage your health. The best-known self-management workshops have been developed and rigorously tested by Stanford University.

Understanding the Stanford Self-Management Workshops

+ Do these workshops work?

Yes! The Stanford self-management workshops have been studied for more than 30 years and have helped hundreds of thousands of people all over the world improve their health and quality of life.

+ Do these workshops replace my doctor or medical provider?

No. These workshops help you work with your doctor to get the care that best meets your needs. Self-management skills enhance your regular medical treatment. These skills are especially helpful for people with more than one chronic condition who are likely dealing with several doctors, nurses, and other professionals at the same time.

+ Who teaches these workshops?

Volunteer lay leaders, many of whom also have ongoing health issues, help guide the workshops, facilitate discussions, and provide support.

What makes these workshops so successful is that the "group" is the teacher. The workshop is set up to provide many opportunities for members to learn and problem solve together. Group members also help each other stay on track with action plans, goal setting, brainstorming, and general support.

+ What topics are covered in the workshop?

Topics include:

  • How to deal with frustration, fatigue, pain, and isolation.
  • Ways to maintain and improve your strength, flexibility, and endurance.
  • Healthy eating and exercise.
  • Managing your medications.
  • How to communicate more effectively with family, friends, and health professionals.
  • How to better determine whether a new treatment or medicine is right for you.

+ Where are these workshops conducted?

Workshops are available in two formats:

In-person: Some workshops are offered in the community at a senior center, health center, library, church, or other similar setting. There are about 15 participants per workshop. These in-person workshops meet once a week for six weeks at the same day and time. Each session is two and a half hours, including a break. The in-person workshops go by different names in different states.

On the web: The workshop also is offered on the web under the name Better Choices, Better Health®. This self-management workshop is done entirely online and has about 20 participants per workshop. You can choose the days and times that are most convenient for you. You simply log on 2-3 times each week for a total of 1-2 hours per week for six consecutive weeks. The web-based workshops are secure and meet government privacy requirements.

+ Which workshop format is right for me?

That's totally up to you! If you enjoy face-to-face group meetings and can get to the workshop setting at the specified time each week for six weeks, then the in-person option may be right for you.

If you enjoy interacting with people on the web, would prefer to remain anonymous, or would like to do your workshop at any time of day or night, you may want to consider an online workshop.

Still not sure? Click here to answer a few questions that can help you find the workshop experience that's right for you.

+ Is there any cost to the workshop, and do I need to buy any materials?

In-person: Most in-person workshops are free to participants through a grant from the U.S. Administration on Aging or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When you join an in-person workshop, you may receive a free copy of the companion book, Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions and an audio relaxation CD that are used during the workshop. In some cases, you may be asked to pay for these materials. No other materials are required.

On the web: The web-based version, called Better Choices, Better Health®, is currently available for free through a charitable gift from sanofi-aventis to the National Council on Aging. When you join a Better Choices, Better Health® workshop online, you will be mailed a free copy of the companion book, Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions. All other materials such as the CD are part of the free website learning center.

+ How do I find out more about a workshop or sign up for one?

In-person: If you're interested in finding an in-person workshop, click here to find the contact information in your state.

On the web: If you're interested in exploring the web-based Better Choices, Better Health® program, click here.

Still have questions? Send them to us using the form below, and we'll get back to you within 5 business days.

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