Ways to help cope with chronic disease are shared regularly by a program of the Phelps County Regional Medical Center.

Ways to help cope with chronic disease are shared regularly by a program of the Phelps County Regional Medical Center.

It's called Show Me Better Health: Chronic Disease Self-Management, and it was explained to the PCRMC Board of Trustees recently by Carolyn Tilford, the nurse who directs the hospital's community education department.

Half the population of the country has at least one chronic disease, and more than a quarter of the population has two or more diseases.

Tilford said she runs into people frequently who claim they have no chronic disease. Then they reveal in conversation that they have high-blood pressure and diabetes. That's two, right there.

Chronic disease treatments and medicines account for 75 percent of the $2 trillion spent annually on health care.
"The aim of (Show Me Better Health) is to improve the physical and emotional health of participants while reducing health care costs," Tilford said.

The program is a workshop that meets once a week for six weeks. Meetings last about two and one-half hours.
"People with different chronic health problems attend together," she said.

Tilford is one of three trained instructors, so several workshops are offered throughout the year. Two leaders facilitate at each workshop; one or both have chronic diseases themselves.

"We just finished one (series of sessions), and we now have one scheduled for The Centre and another at the Lutheran church," she said.

Another department at the hospital offers similar instruction to hospital employees with chronic diseases.
"It teaches the skills needed in the day-to-day management of treatment and to maintain or increase life's activities," Tilford said.

Participants learn about dealing with fatigue and pain, ways to exercise in spite of pain or other physical problems, appropriate use of medication, nutrition, decision-making and evaluating new treatments, dealing with isolation and frustration, communication with family, friends and health professionals.

It's free. Call 458-7759 to find out about the next series of sessions and to sign up.

PCRMC also offers a program for healthy aging called Silver Eagles. Tilford said it is a free program for anyone over age 50 living in the hospital's service area.

The goal of the program is to help members:
•Be informed of the latest health information for aging.
•Make new health skills a priority.
•Improve lifestyle, diet and attitude for healthy longevity.

The free Silver Eagle membership includes a monthly newsletter, 10 meetings a year, invitation to community education events, free periodic health screenings when they're scheduled, subscription to the hospital's Vim and Vigor magazine, free walking at The Centre on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and road trips twice a year (you pay for your own lunch and admission tickets to whatever attraction is on the agenda).

There are currently 204 Silver Eagles, and about 50 of them are regularly active. To register, call Tilford at 458-7759.

Board President John Park, after Tilford's presentation, said the hospital is an institution that works to put itself out of business.

The chance of that happening are, of course, miniscule, but Park said, "We want a healthy community" and programs such as Show Me Better Health and Silver Eagles are ways to educate people to stay as healthy as possible and not need the hospital often.