Author Topic: Senior Health Program  (Read 1253 times)

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Senior Health Program
« on: August 25, 2011, 09:02:29 AM »
Take Control of Your Health program helps Hackensack seniors do just that
Wednesday, August 24, 2011   
The Record

HACKENSACK Mabel Manoogian is walking more.

Lydia Martinez, peer leader, leads a class on how to self-manage chronic diseases.

The senior citizen, who lives in a public housing facility on West Railroad Avenue, is a diabetic, has a pacemaker, and has shortness of breath. But for the last few weeks she has strolled the halls in her apartment building several times, and she tries to walk down 20 steps daily.

Manoogian said she credits her more active lifestyle to a class being offered by the Hackensack Health Department which encourages her to move more, even if its just a few more steps a day.
Ive learned that I should do more exercise which I know I should do, but this makes me realize it more, she said.

Manoogian is among several local seniors who are gathering once a week to learn breathing techniques, relaxation methods and better ways to manage pain, and their chronic diseases.

The six-week workshops are free and are part of a program called Take Control of Your Health, which was developed by the School of Medicine at Stanford University in California as the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program.

The class, which is open to city adults who have chronic diseases or their caregivers, is being funded by a $10,000 grant the city received earlier this year from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

The city is holding two six-week workshops that began earlier this month and will run until mid-September. Michelle Ryan, the citys public health nurse, said the department plans to offer two more six-week classes in coming months.

Ryan and Lydia Martinez, who works for the health department, underwent training earlier this year to become peer leaders and head the workshops.

The Take Control of Your Health program has grown in New Jersey since 2006, when only one person was certified as a master trainer able to train peer leaders. Today, the state has 130 master trainers, 300 peer leaders, and more than 3,000 people have completed a community workshop, according to state officials.

John Christ, the citys health officer, said the department holds blood pressure and chronic health screenings, where residents can bring their medical history and have staff talk to them about their possible risk factors for certain diseases, such as diabetes. But, Christ said, he wanted the department to expand its offerings.

This was an area that we needed to improve our services on and all health departments need to provide chronic disease programs for their community, he said.

In the classes, participants learn strategies for managing symptoms, ways for them to remember to take their medication, what questions to ask their health care provider or pharmacist, problem-solving, handling difficult emotions, eating well, and exercising safely. They also are encouraged to set weekly goals for themselves.

The value of the program is how it assists people in how to make a plan and see them succeed, said Nancy Hess, program director for Skylands RSVP & Volunteer Resource Center of NORWESCAP, a non-profit organization that trains peer leaders to run the workshops in several counties, including Morris and Passaic. They take small steps and find success in accomplishing those. That is what makes the program so powerful, that sense of accomplishment and enabling them to see more success in their life.

The organization, with headquarters in Denville, has been offering training since 2007, when it received a three-year grant from the state.

Martinez says she has seen vast improvements in Hackensack participants already.

They seem happy and they are more enthusiastic, she said. We emphasize to them that we are not telling them to run a marathon, but just encourage them to do more.

Manoogian and her fellow workshop participants said they feel better about themselves, and more confident about handling their ailments.

It shows me that I dont have to stop when something is wrong with me, said Marion Sisco, 68, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. If you cant do it one way, this class shows me how I can do it another way.

Hackensack residents interested in the classes can call Ryan at 201-646-3963.

Fast facts

The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program known in New Jersey as Take Control of Your Health uses peer-led education to help individuals cope with symptoms, manage medication and make lifestyle changes. Currently, more than 60 agencies are partnering with the state in offering the workshops, according to Dawn Thomas, spokesperson for the state Department of Health and Senior Services. In addition to English, it is offered in seven different languages Spanish, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindi, French Creole and Vietnamese making it accessible to many diverse populations, she said.
Documented outcomes from the program include a reduction of health distress, increased confidence in managing chronic conditions and less fatigue, Thomas said.