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Living Healthy for Life

Monday, September 19, 2016

My mom says Arthur goes with her everywhere.    It is with her at night, when she wakes in the morning, and every step and movement during the day.  Arthur is not a dog, cat, or even gentlemen friend.  Arthur is mom’s code word for arthritis.  It is indeed a constant companion although not a welcome one.  Over time, it has changed her life and decreased some of her activities.  I imagine we all know someone like my mom, living with chronic pain or a chronic condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or even anxiety.  Often these conditions compromise the quality of daily life.  There is the pain, the limitations, and consequently for some, poor emotional health to deal with on an everyday basis.  If you or a loved one fits this description, you may want to consider a Living Healthy workshop.

Living Healthy workshops are educational programs designed to help people manage life with chronic pain or disease.  They are based on the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP).  This evidence-based, self-management education program helps participants learn self-management skills needed to help deal with the symptoms of their chronic condition and with the life role changes and emotions experienced when living with a chronic condition. The emphasis of the workshop’s curriculum is to help people: manage common problems such as fatigue; communicate with friends, family, and providers; deal with anger and depression; and design and maintain a healthy eating and exercise plan. In addition, participants learn disease related decision-making and problem solving skills.  As a result, these interventions help participants reduce pain, depression, fear, and frustration; improve mobility and exercise; increase energy; and boost confidence in their ability to manage their condition. The most important outcome is that people become more confident and are able to combine more active lives with self-management of their chronic health condition.

From 2012 to now, more than 7,300 people have participated in CDSMP Living Healthy workshops across New York. Most of those people live with multiple chronic conditions including: arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, lung disease, depression and others.  Chronic disease self-management programs are being implemented successfully in senior centers, churches, and other community settings across the country.  According to, subjects who took the program, when compared to those who did not, demonstrated significant improvements in exercise, cognitive symptom management, and communication with physicians, self-reported general health, health distress and fatigue, disability, and social/role activities limitations. They also spent fewer days in the hospital, and there was also a trend toward fewer outpatient visits and hospitalizations.  

In addition, participants applaud benefits of the Living Healthy self-help workshops:

“They taught us to focus on what we can do…not on what we can’t do.”

“The pain doesn’t go away, but you learn to manage the pain instead of the pain managing you.”

“Now I can work better with my doctor to manage my symptoms.”

“I know the things to do and this helps my motivation to get it done.”

“The progress is due to the positive class support.”

Locally, Noyes Health offers Living Healthy classes in the fall and spring.  Participants learn from trained volunteer leaders with health conditions themselves.  Each person learns how to set his or her own goals and make a step-by-step plan to improve his or her own health and life!  The workshops meet for 2 ½ hours once per week for six weeks.  The Fall, 2016 workshop, Living Healthy with a Chronic Condition, will be held in Nunda starting October 12th from 10 am – 12:30 pm.  Classes are FREE but spaces are limited and registration is required.  If you would like more information or would like to register, call (585)335-4358 or email:  

This article was written by Christa Barrows, Living Healthy coordinator at Noyes Health and Lorraine Wichtowski.  Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville.  If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at or 585-335-4327.  

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