A high quality of life is possible, even with chronic conditions

Michigan State University Extension teams up with state and regional partners to offer Personal Action Toward Health (PATH) workshops throughout Michigan.

Consider the following scenario: You have a fever and bad pain in your right side. You go to the doctor and are whisked in for tests, told it is acute appendicitis and that you need an operation to remove the inflamed tissue. The next thing you remember, you are coming to in the recovery room. It was acute, the doctor was in charge and gave orders, you just did what he or she told you to do. And after a few weeks, you feel good as new. It’s a very simple and straightforward scenario. Consider then that the years have gone by and a different kind of health story sometimes emerges as you grow older. Maybe it’s arthritis, chronic back pain, type 2 diabetes or heart disease. This, unfortunately, is not so simple.

As the global population ages, chronic conditions are becoming much more prevalent. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that chronic diseases cause seven in ten deaths each year in the U.S. About 133 million Americans, nearly one in two adults, live with at least on chronic illness This is costly. More than 75% of health care costs are due to chronic conditions. 

The health care approach to chronic disease is very different from the appendix scenario above. Chronic conditions are not always easy to figure out. They can come on slowly, are often sorted out only after a series of tests to rule things out. Once identified, health care professionals have limited time and resources to really explain the details. They provide advice, point you in the direction of resources, tell you to come back in a certain period of time to report how you are doing and to have more tests, and possibly give you the impression that you will be in charge of this situation. And the real news is that this condition will probably not be going away anytime soon, if ever.

Learning to navigate this “new normal” takes a lot of information, motivation, support and courage. It is filled with challenges, ups and downs, and lots and lots of adjusting. But, it can be done. It is possible to have a high quality of life and deal effectively with chronic conditions. To find out more about where PATH is being offered near you, contact To find out more about where PATH is being offered near you, contact To find out more about where PATH is being offered near you, contact

In Michigan, the Michigan Department of Community Health has joined with community partners like MSU Extension, the Office of Services to the Aging and others, to offer the Personal Action Toward Health (PATH)  sixweek workshop series. All over the state, people dealing with chronic conditions are finding out about skills, attitudes, motivation and mutual support that make a higher quality of life possible. They are taking charge, and finding the confidence they need to go forward. And, in spite of health issues, life is still good. 

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