Chronic disease self-management program
May 31, 2022
Joan Hatem-Roy, CEO

Question: I am a relatively healthy 65-year-old whose arthritis and back pain have been gradually getting worse. I don’t feel old but am finding the discomfort very wearing. I use a cane when I walk and can’t sit for extended periods, even in my most comfortable chair. I’ve tried all sorts of remedies—medication, therapy, and exercise—but nothing seems to work. Do you have any advice?

Answer: Yes, our Healthy Living Center of Excellence has a free workshop series designed specifically for people in your situation. It’s called “My Life, My Health: Chronic Pain” and is part of the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program.

Developed more than 20 years ago by doctors at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, the program encourages people with conditions like cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and depression to take charge of their health.

The program:

Empowers people to live with chronic disease

Revolves around group support

Cultivates three core skills: action-planning, problem-solving, and decision-making

Explores techniques for dealing with fatigue, sleep, pain, and difficult emotions

Includes exercises to boost strength, flexibility, and endurance

Provides advice about the use of medications; healthy eating; and communicating effectively with family, friends, and healthcare professionals

During the workshops, you will be free to get up and move around to make yourself more comfortable. You will be encouraged to try the group exercises, doing whatever you can, without feeling judged by the workshop leaders or your fellow students. You proceed at your own pace, finding new ways to manage your pain on a daily basis, surrounded by people who understand what you’re feeling because they have been there themselves.

The workshops take place in community settings such as senior centers, churches, libraries, and hospitals, as well as remotely via Zoom. They meet once a week for two hours, for a total of six weeks. Each workshop is facilitated by two trained non-health professionals who may also be living with a chronic disease.

For more information about the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, please visit

I wish you the best of luck.

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