Authors: Kate Lorig RN. DrPH, David Sobel, MD ,Virginia González, MPH, Diana Laurent, MPH,
Marian Minor, RPT.PhD, Contributor: Peg Harrison, MA, MSW, LCSW
Publisher: James Bull
ISBN: 13: 978-1-933503-01-1: 10: 1-933503-01-7

Over the past twenty years the Stanford Patient Education Research Center has developed, tested, and evaluated self-management programs for people suffering from chronic health problems. The objective of these programs is to help people gain self-confidence in the ability to control their problems and learn how health problems have an impact on their lives. Several manuals have been put together to go along with these programs. One such manual is Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions that instructs people with a chronic disease how to cope and live with it.

You are probably asking how can you have an illness and still live a healthy life? As pointed out in the manual's introduction, it is important to look at the consequences of most chronic diseases. In most cases, no matter what the disease may be such as heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, emphysema, Parkinson's or any other one, there is often one common ingredient, they cause most individuals to lose physical conditioning that results in fatigue. Moreover, there may also be emotional distress, frustration, anger, depression, or a sense of helplessness. As the manual points out: “Health is soundness of body and mind, and a healthy life is one that seeks that soundness.” Consequently, if you want to live with a chronic illness, you have to work hard at overcoming the physical and emotional problems associated with the disease. Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Disease focuses on how to receive the greatest possible physical capability and pleasure from life. One caveat, the manual does not present miracles or cures, rather its emphasis is on tips and ideas to make your life easier. The advice emanates from physicians and other health professionals, who have learned to positively manage their illness.

Divided into twenty-one chapters, the manual covers such topics as becoming an active self-manager, finding resources, understanding and managing common symptoms, using your mind to manage symptoms, the positive effect of exercise, communicating, sex and intimacy, eating habits, managing your medicines, making treatment decisions, managing such chronic diseases as lung, high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, and planning for the future concerning fears and reality. The last chapter provides over two hundred helpful hints.

Beginning with an over-view of self-management, the authors explore chronic illness in general and point out the most common problems. The authors also provide advice and guidance concerning self-management skills that are unique to a particular disease, although as mentioned, many of these still have much in common. The remaining chapters provide the details needed to master many of the self-management skills.

Some people suffering from a chronic illness will withdraw and their disease becomes the center of their existence. However, there are others who realize how harmful this can be and somehow manage to get on with their life. As mentioned, the difference is between the two approaches and it is not the disease, but rather, how a person copes with a chronic disease and how they manage the disease.

The manual explores in detail the following: recognition that you are your own manager and like a manager of a business or household you must decide the following: what you wish to accomplish; try to seek out alternative ways to accomplish your goal; begin with short-term plans by creating an action plan or an agreement with yourself; carry out the plan; verify the results; make the necessary changes; and remember to reward yourself. These are the essential steps in becoming an active self-manager.

More precisely, there are four chapters that are strictly devoted to exercise, and as the authors assert: “Regular exercise and physical activity are vital to your physical and emotional health and can bring you fun and fitness at the same time.” These chapters include diagrams, exercise problems and possible solutions, suggested further readings, and a multitude of other aids.

Two chapters explore the problems people with chronic diseases have with communicating either with family or friends or their health care providers. The authors discuss ways to improve the communication process. An entire chapter deals with sex and intimacy, as couples living with a chronic health problem often face a challenge in keeping this important aspect of their relationship alive and well. Another very comprehensive chapter deals with healthy eating. Topics covered are what is healthy eating, planning a healthy meal, reading food labels, an extensive food guide, and several tips concerning certain chronic diseases as diabetes, heart, and lung. Considerable ink is devoted to managing you medicines and making treatment decisions. What can we believe when it comes to new medications and how do we decide what might be worth a try. There are four chapters that deal uniquely with a specific disease as lung, heart disease and high blood pressure, arthritis, and diabetes.

The last two chapters devote themselves to planning for the future and helpful hints.

With its clear and organized structure, Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions succeeds where so many books of a similar nature fail. It is not only an educational book-it manages to be an eye-opener with its wealth of information and advice.

Author's Bio: 

Norm Goldman is the Publisher & Editor of the book reviewing and author interviewing site Norm is a top 500 Amazon book reviewer and in addition to contributing reviews and author interviews to, Norm also posts his reviews on several other sites. Click on to check out Norm's credentials and to check out Norm's Priority Review Service.