Chronic Disease Self-Management Program Set

By Karla Schaffer

The Chronic Disease Self Management Program is a free six-week workshop offered throughout Anne Arundel County to help adults manage their chronic conditions. A chronic disease is generally defined as a medical condition that can cause suffering and loss of physical abilities over many years. Chronic conditions can range from high blood pressure to arthritis, heart disease, COPD, obesity, chronic pain and fibromyalgia.

Participants come into the workshop with a multitude of chronic conditions, however, the symptoms they manage and deal with are very similar. To some degree, each participant experiences anxiety, stress, fatigue, pain, frustration and isolation and the majority of the workshop focuses on how to manage these symptoms.

Presenters teach participants about appropriate exercise methods, and also how to fight fatigue and make daily tasks easier. Relaxation techniques are taught as well on how to communicate with physicians, how to manage medications, basic nutrition and how to evaluate new treatments.

Each class builds upon the previous one.  Participants should set goals and establish weekly action plans. This format keeps the participants moving forward and helps them meet their goals. An action plan can be anything from starting an exercise program to making that phone call to set up a long-delayed doctor’s appointment. A few participants have even finished their ironing and cleaned out their basements or offices by following their action plans.

Past participants report decreased disability and fatigue, increased energy, fewer trips to the emergency room and not as many doctor visits. The course gives participants the confidence to manage their own health conditions, plus it can be fun. Participants often form lasting friendships and support groups that continue long after the course is over. The workshop atmosphere provides an opportunity for participants to connect with others with chronic conditions. Just knowing that others share the same experiences often helps participants to cope with their own.

Participants come each of the six weeks for two and one-half hours. This is an evidence-based program developed and researched by Stanford University. It is open to adults of any age with chronic conditions as well as their caregivers.  Classes are scheduled to begin in April at Anne Arundel Medical Center and Baltimore Washington Medical Center. Contact the Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities for a class schedule, or contact Pam Toomey at 410.222.4366 or [email protected]

Karla is the public information officer for the Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities and can be reached at or 410.222.4464.

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