Exploring A.W.A.K.E. and Other Available CPAP Support Groups

Exploring A.W.A.K.E. and Other Available CPAP Support Groups

January 28, 2015 | |

The challenges to constant compliance when it comes to CPAP therapy are many and varied. Just as every person living with sleep apnea is different, so too is their condition and the challenges that they may experience with CPAP therapy. Many users are able to transition to CPAP therapy with minimal disruption and go on to years of higher quality of life standards.  Others, however may need the support of other users and experts. Fortunately, outside of family, there are CPAP support groups that every user can turn to in order to get answers to questions or just provide encouragement that can help them stay well rested, healthy and compliant.

One of the most widespread CPAP support groups is known as A.W.A.K.E., which is an acronym for Alert, Well, And Keeping Energetic. This phrase has been common among sleep therapy professionals and the medical field in general for quite some time and pretty much sums up the goal of CPAP therapy.

A.W.A.K.E. is a national CPAP therapy education and support group with chapters in every state and more being developed wherever the need arises to help people face to face and free of charge. The format of most meetings allows for individuals to ask questions and to share their experiences with treatment.

According to an article in Sleep Review Magazine, the A.W.A.K.E. Network of support groups was established in 1989 by Lucy Seger, with the support of a committee made up of Joyce Black, Nancy Kern, Jean Hardy, and Linda Napierala to provide support to CPAP therapy users. Although the non-profit now operates in full support and cooperation with the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) A.W.A.K.E. actually predates the creation of the ASAA by one year.

The article further states that “Today, the nearly 300 groups around the United States and in British Columbia, Canada, that have signed statements of understanding with the ASAA provide a place for sleep apnea patients and their families to go for three things: mutual support, continuing education, and empowerment.” A searchable A.W.A.K.E. database can help CPAP therapy users find the closest group.

Coordinators routinely find and books speakers that are experts or that can provide unique perspectives on CPAP therapy, sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. This takes the scope of the meetings beyond support and help with CPAP therapy to the many ways in which it impacts daily lives beyond the therapy itself to the working world, family life, relationships and much more.

A.W.A.K.E may be the largest and most widespread of these CPAP support group networks, but it is far from the only one. Most every University hospital, local or regional sleep center, and quite a number of physician and health practices provide CPAP support groups in one form or another. Some are weekly and open to anyone while others are by appointment or by phone. Some are associated with health-oriented non-profits and may provide support forums that are online only.

One of the most popular online forums is known as Apnea Board.com, which is run and started by CPAP therapy users. The board does not have non-profit status and therefore relies on donations from its member users to help keep it going and expanding. Like other support groups, users can find hundreds if not thousands of CPAP therapy users as well as experts that can provide support advice and guidance for all aspects of CPAP therapy and living with sleep apnea. Another is the Free CPAP Advice Forum.

Major manufacturers in this space also are known to provide online forums for their users that bring experienced users and professionals to the table to answer questions and provide support to the users of their equipment. Regardless of the source, all of these CPAP support groups are centered on reassuring patients that there are others just like them and there are strategies for overcoming most CPAP treatment compliance challenges.

Finally, The CPAP Shop continues to do its best to not only educate but provide assistance to users who are having difficulty adjusting to equipment.  As experts in the field who have logged thousands of minutes of call time with users, we are uniquely qualified to be a quick and easy point of contact.

Chris Vasta

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes and is frequently tapped to provide reviews on new releases.