Living Well Program Comes to Washington County

Living Well Program Comes to Washington County
Submitted by: John Kenney, LCSW-C, Facilitator, Living Well Coalition for Washington County

The Living Well Program helps people age 60 and older with chronic conditions take charge of their health. Chronic conditions include: arthritis, diabetes, depression, heart disease, stroke, lung disease. People with different chronic conditions participate in the highly interactive workshops together. Participants learn: skills to manage fatigue, frustration and pain; exercises to improve strength and flexibility; appropriate use of medications; how to communicate effectively with family and health care professionals; ways to improve nutrition; and how to evaluate new treatments. The series of seven
Living Well workshops are facilitated by two trained leaders. Lisa McCoy, R.D., nutritionist with the Washington County Health Department, and Cindy Earle, R.N., Community Health Education Coordinator with the Washington County Hospital are the local Master Trainers. The workshops faithfully follow the evidenced-based Chronic Disease Self-Management Program developed by Stanford University and used in the United States and other countries.
Meeting the complex needs of patients with chronic illness or impairment is the single greatest challenge facing health care providers today. The prevalence of chronic disease continues to increase as our population ages. Today, many older people have more than one chronic condition. Sizable proportions of chronically ill people are not receiving effective therapy, have poor disease control, and are unhappy with their care. Escalating health care costs of chronic care are a concern for everyone. Studies of the Stanford model show that, this series of two and one-half hour weekly workshops helps people take control of their health, increase their capabilities, and reduce their need for high cost health care.
Leading the local program is the Living Well Coalition for Washington County. This coalition is composed of: Washington County Commission on Aging, Washington County Hospital, Washington County Health Department, Washington County Department of Social Services, Washington County Mental Health Authority, Hagerstown Community College, Hagerstown Housing Authority, and Alzheimer's Association. The Washington County Commission on Aging obtained grant funding from the Weinberg Foundation through the Maryland Department of Aging to implement the program.
The participant's cost for the series of seven workshops is $35. The fee includes a copy of Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions book and an audio-tape Time for Healing - Relaxation for Mind and Body. To register for a Living Well workshop series in the Hagerstown area or for more information, call the Washington County Hospital at 888-803-1518. Scholarships are available for persons with financial hardships.