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Living Well Program Puts ‘Life’ Back Into Seniors’ Lives
(February 24, 2012) Delores Holloman of Ossining, 77, was having trouble with her back. So when she read about the “Living Well Livable Communities Program” for seniors, recently launched at Phelps Memorial Hospital Center in Sleepy Hollow, she knew right away that she wanted to sign up.
“It was reassuring to know that I was not alone in experiencing these back problems. There’s a sense of fear that comes with aging, so sharing my concerns with others was very helpful,” said Miss Holloman. The ‘others’ that Delores is referring to were the 11 participants in a six-week program to help seniors manage their chronic health problems.
The theory behind the program, developed by Stanford University School of Medicine, is that by encouraging seniors to take on more responsibility for managing their health, they can improve the quality of their lives and lower their healthcare costs. The program is funded by New York State’s Office for the Aging through the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS).
The workshops are given by specially trained volunteers who are learning to deal with their own long-term health problems. The trainers provide seniors with strategies to modify their behavior through physical activity and exercise, make changes in their diets and learn techniques to handle pain, frustration and fatigue.
Trainer Erin Maher stated, “A large portion of the program focuses on goal setting and problem solving, which are necessary skills for everyone, regardless of age or health status. I truly learned a lot from hearing the participants’ stories and felt very connected to the group.” The seniors also learn how to use medications correctly and improve communications with their families and healthcare providers.
“The program helps seniors put life back into their lives,” said Ellen Woods, Program Manager of the Vitality Initiative at Phelps, which promotes health, wellness and aging-in-place for adults and seniors in the community. “The techniques they learn, the knowledge they gain and the support they receive from the group helps them take more control over their circumstances. Participants are empowered to manage their health and to maintain a more active lifestyle. Seniors in the program develop a plan and set weekly, incremental goals, which helps them realize success,” said Woods.
Group members also help each other. Miss Holloman was assigned a “partner” who she keeps in touch with and together they make sure they keep up the routines they established while in the program. “It would be terrible to stop doing what we learned in the workshop. This way we keep each other motivated.”
The Living Well program is a series of six workshops. The program currently in place at Phelps Memorial Hospital is in partnership with Westchester Community College, which coordinates “Livable Communities” programs for the northern region of Westchester County.
To learn more about the benefits of the “Living Well Program, call Ellen Woods at 914-366-3937.