MSN Seniors Complete “ Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions” Workshop
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

The Muslim Support Network (MSN) members completed a six-week self-management workshop entitled “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions.” The workshop was hosted by the MSN that was established in November, 2005 with the specific purpose of improving the health and well-being of their elders. It occasionally hosts health education programs to meet its objective.

Dr Ray Grimm from the City of Fremont Health Services conducted the workshop conceived by the Patient Education Research Center at Stanford University. He was assisted by volunteers Meher Zulfiqar, Nadia Asef and Labiba Sher. Kaiser Foundation had given a grant to the MSN for this workshop, according to Moina Shaeq, MSN President.

During the final session of the workshop on January 14, Dr Grimm reviewed the six-week course and tested the participants through various sets of questions to know what they have learnt from the workshop. At the conclusion of the final session Dr Grimm distributed certificates among the participants.

Research indicates that those who participated in the program had improved healthful behaviors and overall health status. They also reported lesser number of days spent in hospital.

Interestingly, the Stanford-model self-management programs are offered around the world using different names, but they are exactly the same program.

For many people, coping with a chronic health condition can be extremely trying. Fatigue, pain, breathing difficulties, sleeping problems, loss of energy, depression and anxiety about the future are common among them.

This course helps people with chronic conditions overcome these daily challenges, and maintain an active, fulfilling life. The program is based on self-efficacy theory and emphasizes problem-solving, decision-making and confidence-building. Participants learn about healthier ways to live, gain confidence and motivation to manage their health, and feel more positive about their lives.

Adults of all ages, who are experiencing chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, fibromyalgia, hypertension, depression or any other ongoing or long-term health conditions can attend. Their family members, friends and caregivers are also welcome, as they will benefit from the information personally and develop a better understanding of living with a chronic condition.

The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program is a workshop given two and a half hours, once a week, for six weeks. Subjects covered include: 1) techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation, 2) appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance, 3) appropriate use of medications, 4) communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals, 5) nutrition, 6) decision making, and, 7) how to evaluate new treatments.

According to Stanford University the Self-Management Program will not conflict with existing programs or treatment. It is designed to enhance regular treatment and disease-specific education such as Better Breathers, cardiac rehabilitation, or diabetes instruction. In addition, many people have more than one chronic condition. The program is especially helpful for these people, as it gives them the skills to coordinate all the things needed to manage their health, as well as to help them keep active in their lives.

Research confirms that a year after completing this course, participants reported increased healthful behaviors, better symptom management, improved health status, fewer physician and hospital visits, and greater confidence in their ability to manage their condition.


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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