Betty Dunn's rationale for enrolling in Fairview’s Living Well workshop is simple: “I’ve had a long and interesting life, and it’s important to me to make the most of every moment I have left.”
Living Well helps people and their caregivers manage chronic conditions. Betty is coping with arthritis. Others learn skills for living with high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression and anxiety.
Funded in part by the Fairview Foundation to improve the health of our communities, Living Well is free and you don't need to be a Fairview patient to sign up.
The sessions are led by local people who are working on their own plans for better health and have completed an intensive four-day training course.
"It’s important to have the leaders fit in with the workshop participants," says Megan Chacon, a community health outreach assistant manager at Fairview who helps find leaders across Minnesota. "They serve the community that they are from. It’s usually someone who has a chronic condition themselves or who is a caretaker for someone with a chronic condition.”
Developed by Stanford University’s Patient Education Research Center, the workshop meets once a week for six weeks. Leaders work with participants to actively improve their health. The sessions address medication, communication with doctors and caregivers, nutrition and fitness—with practical activities and advice at anyone's level.
Betty enjoyed learning new stretches to keep her moving. “The exercises covered every muscle in my body—and they all need help,” says Betty.
Meg Bale went to the workshop with Betty and was reintroduced to cooking. “I raised three boys and I was done with cooking,” Meg explains. “I learned I was missing a lot of good nutrition. That’s important as you get older.”
Living Well emphasizes disease-related problem solving, decision making and action planning. Along with cooking, Meg struggled to plan her time in retirement: “I needed to set some goals, and this program helped me do that.”
One of her goals was to take yoga, something she'd wanted to do for years. She learned to mentally prepare for taking this step. “It worked,” says Meg. “I joined a gym, and now I go to yoga class three times a week. I wasn’t prepared physically for the class, but I learned that you get better as you go.”
Megan says it’s a pleasure to watch people transform as the courses progress. “The participants love it. I get to see and hear how the workshop is making a difference in their lives, making them feel better, helping them communicate with their doctors and families about their health, and just thinking about their chronic conditions in a different way.”