Chronic conditions and diseases are considered to cover a large spectrum of illnesses including injuries and mental problems. Chronic diseases and conditions often have persistent effects. They are usually long lasting and have a very wide complication range. Many patients who suffer from such conditions experience significant side effects which last for more than six months. The severity of chronic diseases and conditions calls for proper management and measures to be put in place to check on the symptoms and impacts experienced by both individuals and communities. Common examples of chronic diseases and conditions include diabetes, cancer, asthma, HIV/AIDs, Acne, blindness, diabetes, disabled elderly, epilepsy and hepatitis.
This paper focuses on the disabled elderly in the United States. The number of the disabled elderly in the United States is predicted to rise by more than three hundred percent by the year 2049 (Falvo, 2009). Disabilities at old age are often caused by chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cognitive impairment. It is these alarming figures that have given rise to several programs and projects which are set to manage or prevent the affected patients. These programs include the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) and National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP).
Psycho-social challenges and far reaching consequences
More than seventy five percent of the elderly people in the United States are suffering form at least one chronic disease or condition. These Chronic conditions result in immediate and severe disabilities like stroke and hip fractures, eventually leading to progressive disability rendering the elderly unable to take care of themselves. The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey has it that more than four and a half million elderly Americans require assistance when it comes to dressing, shopping, preparing meals and shopping. The costs associated with the treatment of chronic conditions and diseases have in the recent past proved to be high and are continuing to grow. Of all the out-of –pocket costs on health, functional impairment and chronic health conditions records the highest percentage. In 1997, the expenses covering the elderly totaled to twenty seven million (Guralnik, 1997).
Concerned Research Projects
One of the research programs that have come out strongly to help managing disabled elderly in United States is the CDSMP. The project was founded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) at the Education Research Center of Stanford University. The project is charged with the responsibility of educating patients on better ways of managing symptoms, maintaining functional abilities and how to adhere to regimes on medication. The projects settings in the affected communities are staged din churches, senior centers, libraries, and hospitals all over nation. The AHRQ through CDSMP also funds investigations on comparisons between health status, health behaviors and health services. The project has so far ensured that participants experience fewer emergency room visits, significant improvements in health status, energy, role and social activities, and less health or fatigue distress. In two years only, the project had ensured that health distress had greatly reduced. Participants had increased their self efficiency leading to stronger motivation, perseverance and better decision making. In addition, there was no further disability among the participants. By the end of the year 2000, the participant’s enrollment had risen to 2,500. To get more funding opportunities, the AHRQ has come up with patient-centered care which is meant to customize care in order to meet patients’ needs. Through the program, the project will be well fiscally placed to evaluate and redesign developing processes of care that lead to improved patient interaction, greater patient empowerment and improved quality, access and outcomes (Lorig and Holaman, 2006).
The NCCDPHP on the hand was a nation-wide research project that was intended to promote well being and good health through control and prevention of control diseases. The project was set up with the aim of detecting and controlling chronic diseases, to contribute and apply research results to effective and practical intervention strategies and to eliminate ethnic and racial disparities to achieve health equity. The project is aimed at providing leadership and expertise that are critical in the intervention geared towards prevention of chronic diseases and conditions. It is also aimed at promoting the health of communities and individuals. It forms part of the public infrastructure in United States federal public health agency, working together with the public health professionals, policy makers, providers and educators. The project also collaborates and partners fully with local and state health, community groups, education agencies, private organizations and voluntary associations which support them both financially and idea wise. NCCDPHP extends its scope to include collaborations in housing, transportation, education, labor and justice in order to achieve health services that are optimal to all (Falvo, 2009).
In order to improve and manage the disabled elderly in United States, more focus should be put on lifestyle change and education. Comprehensive counseling and education interventions impact on health behaviors positively. Behavior techniques such as personal communication, self monitoring and viewing materials that are audiovisual lead to successful change of behaviors such as weight control, smoking and drinking. Education also promotes exercised changes thus reducing the prevalence of chronic conditions such as heart failure. Careless lifestyles are a major contributor to some of the chronic diseases and conditions such as HIV/AIDS and diabetes. Such behaviors should be highly discouraged especially at old age (Lorig and Holaman, 2006).
Chronic conditions and diseases are currently regarded as the leading cause of disability and death in United States, accounting for approximately more than seventy percent of all the deaths recorded in United States. This is about 1.7 million deaths annually. Despite the costs and health problems associated with chronic diseases and conditions, they can be affectively and easily controlled and prevented. Several research projects and programs have responded to this possibility by coming up with initiatives expected to manage patients of chronic conditions and diseases. In addition to these programs and projects, other interventions should be put in place so as to minimize the impact of chronic diseases and conditions.