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It's Your Life - A Practical Handbook for Chronic Ailments
The Caregiver's Manual
"It's Your Life" 

A Practical Handbook for Chronic Ailments

by Sangeeta S.Bhagwat



Over 2000 free print copies distributed with the aid of community, family doctors, general physicians, surgeons, cardiologists, nephrologists, homeopaths, chronic disease support groups, clinics, pharmaceutical companies, etc.. 

Read "It's Your Life" online now or download this useful book for free. 

Almost 90% of the responsibility of chronic disease management lies with the patient/caregiver.   Both need to learn that it is not appropriate that they leave it all on the doctors’ shoulders.  On the positive side, awareness and active participation of the patient in his own care can:

  •  Improve patient’s  well being 
  •  Enhance quality of life  for the patient as well as caregiver 
  •  Reduce exorbitant and avoidable medical expenses 
  •  Possibly increase  the patient's  and the caregiver’s productivity 
  •  Improve accepted standards of medical care
  •  Contribute in many such ways to the society at large.

Effective Communication Can Empower Caregivers to Improve Health Care of Patients with Chronic Illnesses

An estimated total of 133 million people in the United States - nearly half of all Americans - have at least one chronic condition, and that number is expected to swell to 171 million by 2030 as a result of the aging of the population, as cited in a 2006 report, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Anthology: To Improve Health and Health Care Volume X.

Simply put, the report finds that unfortunately doctors and hospitals bring in more revenue by amputating the limbs of diabetics that were poorly advised prior to treatment, performing bypass surgery on individuals with advanced heart disease and hospitalizing asthmatics compared to what they do sustaining these patients to steer clear of such acute aggravations of their underlying chronic conditions.

caregiver role in chronic illness

The question then becomes, how can society turn a corner in a way that improves patient care for those with chronic illnesses by elevating the dialogue between patients and providers?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued a report, “Innovative Care for Chronic Conditions: Building Blocks for Action,” that represents the first key component of a three-pronged WHO strategy to improve the way health care systems prevent and manage chronic conditions like Crohn’s disease and frequent anxiety attacks.

According to a summary on the organization’s website, the report found that advances in biomedical and behavioral management have substantially increased the ability to effectively prevent and control conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS and cancer. Growing evidence from this, and other organizations, suggests that patients fare better with their illnesses when they receive self-management support and regular communication with their healthcare providers and others involved in their care. With educational websites like Project Skeletal, management of these different conditions can be sustainable.

What is Self-Management?

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) defines self-management support as the care and encouragement provided to people with chronic conditions to help them understand their central role in managing their illness, make informed decisions about care, and engage in healthy behaviors.

Effective self-management support can only be achieved through a collaboration between the patient and her healthcare provider, one in which the provider is a coach as well as clinician, and the patient and family are managers of daily care, the IHI explains. Through collaboration patients, family, and providers can share information like in the case of Autism4Dads, they develop goals and design a comprehensive plan that works across the entire healthcare continuum.

Condition-Specific Management Plans

Providing self-management support is a big challenge to providers and health care systems. IHI, with funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is working to create state-of-the-art self-management support interventions at the practice, health care system, and community levels. There are several other companies and programs that help those with chronic illnesses take back control of their lives and their health by better managing their conditions.

The Stanford School of Medicine offers the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, a workshop that runs two and a half hours, once a week, for six weeks, in community settings such as senior centers, churches, libraries and hospitals. Facilitated by two trained leaders, these workshops - designed for people with a variety of different chronic health problems - offer a unique perspective as one or both of the moderators are non-health professionals who also live with a chronic illness.

According to their website, areas covered include: methods to cope with issues of exhaustion, frustration, pain and isolation; suitable exercise for maintaining and improving strength that can be found in the General Fitness site, flexibility and endurance; proper utilization of medications; communicating effectively with family, friends as well as health care providers; nutrition; and how to assess new treatments.

Another useful program is HealthMedia Care® for Your Health, which emulates a health coaching session, without the coach, to deliver an individually personalized condition-specific management plan. In recent developments, medical applications like those featured in the Physician’s Brain website can be used when the patient and the hospital are remotely located.

HealthMedia Care® for Your Health claims its program has shown significant improvement in doctor-patient relationship in terms of trust in their provider, comfort asking questions, understanding and recall of information, and overall health plan satisfaction/member retention.

Health 2.0

Every day patients gain access to new and better ways to communicate with each other, through the help of different companies, which encourages the important dialogue between patients and the healthcare community. As active advocates of the ePatient movement, the company knows that better communication means better solutions, and when individuals share those solutions, they contribute to the noble cause of helping providers with a method that allows e-patients to empower their lives while serving as their own best health advocates.

A Step Forward in the Healthcare Industry

A study recently published in Health Affairs reports that patients who have access to their doctors via e-mail benefit from more effective health care than those who do not.

More than 35,000 patients with diabetes and/or hypertension were involved in the study performed at Kaiser Permanente. The patients had the option of communicating with their physician via email, with the results favoring those who were actively engaged in their health care by using technological resources. Those who utilized the secure patient-physician email system showed significant improvements in their health over ones who remained unengaged.

As physicians become more accessible to patients, they will go a long way toward improving the quality of healthcare provided and delivered, leading to better outcomes and happier, healthier patients.

The empowering, realistic, down-to-earth tips and guidelines that you will find herein, are common to effective management of all chronic diseases.  They also cut across geographical divide and can be equally useful to a patient or caregiver, in any part of the world.

Read The Caregiver's Manual now.

Guidelines for coping with the challenges of being a caregiver, to a chronic disease patient.  Written from over 13 years of personal experience.