SHERIDAN — Nancy Moses is doing something different…for a change. And in one week after making change, Moses was feeling better.
“I was getting up every morning with severe back pain,” said Moses. “But I figured that’s just how it is when you’re 85. I don’t exercise enough; I sit too much.”
Moses started walking.
“I set a goal to walk five days each week for 10 minutes each time,” said Moses, who lives in an apartment complex. “When the weather is nice, I walk outside. When the weather is not nice, I walk the halls.”
Within a week, her back didn’t hurt as much when she wakes up.
Moses also began doing breathing exercises to a breathing tape twice weekly. And she changed up her diet some.
“I try to eat two vegetables a day, which is hard for me as I hate vegetables,” Moses said.
Moses is learning how to self-manage living with chronic conditions through a six-week program called the Wyoming Chronic Disease Self-Management Program. The program is offered free to older participants through a grant from the Wyoming Center on Aging based at the University of Wyoming.
The objective of the course is to help participants learn to be more active and productive in their own health management. No medical advice is provided in the program. Participants are given techniques such as dealing with problems and communicating effectively with health professionals, to name two of the course objectives.
“I know there are some things I can’t change, such as my macular degeneration and tremors,” Moses said. But Moses was going to manage what she could. And she’s reaping health benefits.
“Since she started taking these classes, she’s driven to live healthier,” course instructor Kathy Watson said.
Watson attended the class last year and was hooked.
“I wanted to teach because I could see what (the class) could do,” Watson said. She saw the power of change in the participants and especially how one participant blossomed. Watson wanted to be part of a program that positively changes lives and enrolled in a statewide training course for trainers. She is now teaching the course.
In the program, participants make action plans, set goals and work toward goals for themselves. The program does not focus on any particular condition so each plan is personalized.
“The action plans make it easier to set a goal and to work towards that goal,” Watson said.
At the beginning of each class, participants are held accountable for their progress and report back to the class how they have progressed during the week.
“If you weren’t able to (meet a goal), that’s OK,” Watson said. “We discuss why it wasn’t achievable. Can we change it, or do we need to problem solve on why it wasn’t achievable? We congratulate them on meeting their goals.”
But participants don’t get off the hook. If they find a goal is unachievable, they are directed to develop a new goal but not to quit. During the week, participants and teachers call each other to check up on each other’s progress.
“They develop a bond and support each other,” Watson said.
The power of the program?
“It encourages them. They say, ‘I can do this’,” Watson said. “It’s so neat to see people want that and strive for that. It’s less doctor’s visits, less hospital visits, less putting your body through all that torture.”
What does Watson observe in Moses?
“She’s looking better; she’s lost some weight; she’s got better color; and she’s happier,” Watson said.
Yes, Moses is doing something that is changing how she feels.
“This makes me get out of my chair and do something for a change, and that is good,” Moses said.
By Lois Bell, Sheridan Senior Center