Workshops teach taking control of your health

Self-management of chronic disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and COPD, will be the topic of several six-week workshops starting in April. Two of the Our Pathways to Health workshops will be held in the Eel River Valley, one in Fortuna at Redwood Memorial Hospital, and one in Ferndale, at the Ferndale Community Church.

The workshop in Fortuna will take place on Tuesdays from April 8 to April 29, and May 6 and May 13, from 5:30-8 p.m. Trained volunteers conduct the peer-led workshops, all of whom have or care for someone with a chronic health condition.

These free wellness workshops are designed to help individuals with long term health conditions gain tools to manage their symptoms, learn to partner with their health care provider, and develop and achieve mini-health goals in an encouraging and private group setting.

The first session includes the mind and body connection, distraction techniques, getting a good night's sleep, and making an action plan. Week two includes problem solving and introduction to physical activity. Week three includes pain and fatigue management, endurance building exercises, and relaxation techniques. Week four includes breathing techniques, healthy eating, communication skills, and problem-solving techniques. Week five discusses making healthy food choices, medication usage, making informed treatment decisions, depression management, and positive thinking. The final week focuses on working with your health care team, weight management, and setting long-term goals.

Since the Our Pathways to Health program began in Humboldt County in September 2008, 130 workshops have been held, more than 1,200 local residents have participated, and more than 850 participants have "graduated," attending four or more sessions of the six-week program.

One participant, Nancy, said, "I think it's really up to folks to take care of themselves and take the first step. Pathways is certainly an excellent way to get there too, because they cover every aspect I can think of having to do with health care. You see changes and you get transformed and you're never really the same person you were beforehand."

Published studies on chronic disease self-management programs found that participating in these programs reduces health care spending as patients have fewer emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and outpatient visits, and spend fewer days in the hospital

The workshop in Ferndale will take place on Wednesdays from April 9 to April 30, and May 7 and May 14 from 1:30-4 p.m. at the Ferndale Community Church, 712 Main St.

To register for the workshops or get more information about the Our Pathways to Health program, call Aligning Forces Humboldt at 445-2806.

Photos by Mary Bullwinkel/Beacon

Eel River Valley residents interested in learning self-management of chronic health conditions can attend a six week Our Pathways to Health workshop starting April 8 in Fortuna at Redwood Memorial Hospital (photo No. 1), and starting April 9 in Ferndale at the Ferndale Community Church (photo No. 2).