Sometimes the sense of helplessness bred by chronic illness can be more debilitating than the disease itself, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Participants in a course hosted by the JCC of Central New Jersey say that being shown how to take more control of their health care has been a boost in itself.
Participant Ann Warren said, “I accomplished things I’ve been putting off, and I was inspired to set more goals for myself.”
The six-week Chronic Disease Self Management Program that started in March covered ways to live a more active life while dealing with diseases like arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma.
The program drew such enthusiastic support, the JCC has decided to offer a second session, according to Barbara Weisbart, the center’s director of adult enrichment. Like the first session, it is being funded with a grant from the Union County Division on Aging, and there is no charge.
The six classes will again be taught by instructors Lois Dyer of Livingston and Hedy Knapp of Westfield, who both completed training in leading such a course. They will take place at the JCC on Wednesdays from May 26 to June 23, from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
The program, developed by Dr. Kate Lorig at Stanford University, is decidedly interactive. It includes, among other activities and topics, exercise, discussions on healthy eating, the appropriate use of medication, and how to communicate effectively with health-care professionals. A major component is an exploration of the frustration and fear that illness can bring, and ways to overcome that, by building confidence and brightening one’s mood.
Assessing the first course as it was drawing to its conclusion this week, participant Dr. Bertram Warren declared it “an excellent program with outstanding instructors.”
Gertrude Schloff said that being enrolled in the six weeks of classes has strengthened her commitment to self-managing her health. Her fellow student Arthur Rifkin was impressed by how well organized the course has been, and he said he enjoyed taking an active part in it.
Knapp declared herself pleased with the outcome. She said, “It was very rewarding to teach a program knowing that the seniors would walk away with new ways to help manage their chronic conditions.”
Her co-teacher, Lois Dyer, said the program had achieved its goal — to help participants give to and get information from their health-care providers, and to overcome limitations in their lives. She added, “The program was socially beneficial as well.”