BENNINGTON -- A workshop series teaching people how to manage different aspects of chronic illness is being offered in September.
The Healthier Living Workshop will teach people suffering from diseases like diabetes, arthritis, cancer, or fibromyalgia to manage their symptoms, and stress, medications, as well as how to communicate better with their doctors, families, and friends, said Eileen Druckenmiller, regional coordinator for self-management workshops for United Health Alliance.
The workshops are free and run from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays from Sept. 18 to Oct. 23. One must sign up first, Druckenmiller said, and that can be done by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 802-440-4098. She said a group of eight to 10 people is needed, but workshops have been as big as 15 to 20 in the past.
A person does not have to attend each session, but if they do they can expect to get information on how to eat healthier, evaluate new treatment options, and how to appropriately use medications.
They are not mere lectures, she said. The purpose is to help those suffering chronic illness create and form plans to reach real goals. Many such illnesses take away people’s ability to do things they once enjoyed, so the workshops help people identify their capabilities then find out how they can do as much as they want to. Druckenmiller said it can be something as simple as wanting to walk to a mailbox three times a week.
She said many who go through the workshop find it a life changing experience, "for the simple fact they realize they are not the only ones going through this."
Chronic illness can lead to other problems such as depression and it helps people to know others face the same challenges as they do and can overcome them. The workshops are led by people trained to teach them and who have chronic illnesses of their own. Many are people who went through the sessions and wanted to help others.
Druckenmiller said she is one of the people teaching these workshops, which are funded through the Vermont Blueprint for Health, a state initiative to better manage chronic diseases.
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