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Chronic Disease Workshops Teach Self-Management

Baby boomers and seniors alike can take advantage of management workshops. Photo courtesy of Living Well.

A series of free online workshops is being offered as a part of the chronic disease-self management program, held by the Pierce County Aging and Disabilities Resource Center.

Those living with a chronic disease can find ways to make it more manageable and still enjoy their regular days.

Restart Living, part of the organization behind the workshops, describes self-management as simple self-reliance, such as taking one’s own pills and eating what you’re supposed to be eating as opposed to checking in with a doctor every week.

However, the workshops are not meant to replace doctor visits, and simply offer ways to help stay healthy and aware between appointments.

According to Restart Living one can “Manage challenging health conditions by taking your medicines correctly, exercising more, eating better, and communicating more effectively with your family, doctors, and health care providers.”

The workshops are guided discussions focusing on topics such as managing one’s medications, eating healthy, dealing with frustration, and more.

The Better Choices, Better Health program is focused on giving seniors an online resource for educating themselves and discussing the difficulties of living with a chronic disease, program specialist Nellis Kim said.

“The whole program is very peer focused,” Kim said. “The idea is that you as a participant are contributing your own experiences, things you’ve learned that work, [things]that maybe somebody else hasn’t tried in terms of managing their conditions.”

The program was developed by Stanford University, and includes work by health and age experts in order to make it the most efficient and most beneficial.

The workshops are designed with health conditions in mind and so are not so strenuous as to prevent those with chronic disease from taking part. Chronic conditions can vary, so the programs focus on effective communication and on helping patrons meet others who have had to deal with similar situations.

“The workshops are also structured in terms of specific modules that get addressed around different aspects of living with chronic health conditions,” Kim said. “There’s a module that addresses nutrition, exercise, how to talk to your doctor…these different pieces that we have to deal with as we go through life.”

Carla Lee, a 57-year-old from Lubbock, Texas, testified on Restart’s webpage to her experience with the program, and the opportunities it gave her.

“What helped so much was the short-term goal-setting, [identifying something] attainable, making a decision, then implementing it. You figure what you want to do, then how you will do it, then lastly, when. You set it all that at beginning of the week [for that week]. It is not about ‘someday.”

You can sign up for Better Choices, Better Health at http://www.restartliving.org/Washington.php, or investigate local offering for in-person versions of the workshop at http://livingwell.doh.wa.gov/workshops

Seattle-area based native Reed Strong is a college senior at Western Washington University majoring in journalism, working with Northwest Prime Time to talk with local seniors and baby boomers to report on local issues to get those issues back to the community at large.

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