If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, heart disease or arthritis, you’re not alone. Approximately 80% of older adults have at least one chronic disease — and 77% have at least two — which require ongoing medical attention and may limit everyday activities. (National Council on Aging)
Living with a chronic health condition is not a normal part of aging nor does it need to be debilitating. There are ways to manage your health to help you live life to its fullest. That’s where Council on Aging’s (COA) Healthy U workshops come in.
Healthy U workshops are free and offer a safe environment for people with a variety of chronic health conditions (diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, etc.) to learn to better manage their disease, and the challenges that come with it.
Workshops are interactive and led by community members, like myself, who have learned to manage a chronic condition. Healthy U leaders are trained to teach techniques to help you better manage your health and achieve your goals.
In Healthy U workshops, we provide light exercises to increase your strength and tips on ways to better communicate with your doctors. We also cover the importance of healthy eating and nutrition. We know all these things are good for us and improve our quality of life, but they’re not easy to do.
We sometimes need support and motivation from others to help us through. Healthy U participants get to know others living with similar conditions who may have some of the very same questions.
I love to see participants share their experiences with one another. In my six years as a Healthy U leader, one story stands out for me. A gentleman in one of my workshops had diabetes. His disease left him blind, and he was using his experience with the disease to make sure this didn’t happen to others. His presence was such an inspiration to me and the others in the class.
Even during this pandemic, Healthy U workshops are a great way to be with other people, in a safe environment. Classes are offered virtually and by phone, so there is no in-person contact. If you are not tech-savvy, we provide all the support you need to participate. Caregivers are welcome to participate as well.
I am lucky to be a Healthy U community leader and have helped 225 people improve their quality of life through 26 workshops.
My hope in writing this letter is to inspire others who may be suffering to be part of Healthy U. Anyone who is interested can visit COA’s website at help4seniors.org or call 513-345-8637.
Melanie Moon is with the Council on Aging.