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Vera Graff was in her 70s when she finally received an asthma diagnosis. And it wasn’t until a few years later that she found the asthma management answers she’d been seeking for most of her life.

When it Came to Breathing, Something Was Just “Off”

Growing up, Vera knew she felt a bit “off.” She’d be out of breath on a hike with her parents, for example. She thought maybe her breathing would get better as she got older.

She was able to work and live a happy life, but physical activity could be a challenge. She’d find herself struggling to breathe even while doing basic tasks. She couldn’t keep up with friends who wanted to go on walks in the park.

Vera knew other people who also struggled with breathing, so she thought, “That’s just the way I am.”

Halfway There: An Asthma Diagnosis

Not long after Vera turned 70, her doctor diagnosed her with asthma. It turns out, all that trouble breathing had a root cause. Now, Vera could begin the journey to a better quality of life. She was given a nebulizer and inhaler. But she wanted more information to help manage her asthma.

A Helping Hand in Asthma Management

Vera began to search for more information on asthma management. Sure, her quick-relief medicine helped when she was having an asthma episode, but how could she prevent those episodes from happening? What was the key to living her best life?

Vera’s search led her to connect with the Health Equity Advancement and Leadership (HEAL) program, a project of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) that works with communities that bear the heaviest burden of asthma. Vera found HEAL by way of the Chicago chapter of the American Lung Association and was connected with the Adults and Adolescents with Asthma Initiative (AAAI).

Approaching 80 with a New Lease on Life

Vera is now approaching 80 and living life with her chronic condition under control. She credits the resources she received through the program for helping with the final pieces of her asthma management puzzle.

Vera learned techniques for managing her asthma triggers and preventing asthma episodes from happening. She also found a community of people with asthma who can support and educate each other.

The program also provided products that helped Vera improve her indoor air quality. Items like an air cleaner and pillow covers for her bed were provided to her at no cost.

Keep Asking Questions

Vera always wondered why she struggled  to breathe. Even after an asthma diagnosis, she knew there had to be more resources to help her feel better. By seeking answers, Vera found the support and tools - like home cleaning supplies and air cleaners - she needed for better asthma control.

“I would encourage anyone who has asthma to get involved in a program like this,” Vera said. “The resources and community support have changed my life.”

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