Nobody wants to have a chronic long-term illness. Unfortunately, most adults will experience two or more chronic conditions during our lives. These illnesses include heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and a host of others can cause most people to experience fatigue as well as to lose physical strength and endurance.
That’s why the “Living Longer, Living Stronger, Living with Chronic Conditions” series of workshops were held at the Altus Public Library once a week on Tuesday evenings for six weeks in July and finished on August 5. The program was for adults who struggle with their chronic illnesses, and for those who support family members or loved ones with chronic conditions.
The Health Department workshop presenters were April Collom from Frederick and Courtney Donley from Elk City, who are themselves living with and managing chronic conditions. Their training and expenses were covered by the Older Americans Act funds and the Oklahoma Department of Health.
“The goal of the 15-hours series was to learn and practice positive self-management skills,” said workshop presenter Courtney Donley. “Workshop topics included goal setting, exercise, nutrition, and relaxation techniques.
One outstanding part of the series was the low-cost, healthy meals provided. The food included Thai-Style Chopped Salad, Zucchini Succotash, Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”, Frozen Fruit Cups, Microwave Vegetable Platter, Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets, Granola Bites, fresh fruit, Javanese meal, Yonanas, ham & beans, cornbread, and healthy lasagna. Some recipes were shared from Nutrition Assistant Becky Luna of the Jackson County OSU Cooperative Extension Service
“The class was limited to 12 participants, and we were pleased that 10 of the 12 participants completed the series, said presenter April Collom. “The small class sizes promoted mutual support and interaction. All of the participants reported learning about new community resources and that they would use the techniques taught.” The individuals who attended the series of free workshops reported other significant and measurable improvements in their health and quality of life—for instance, increased exercise, less fatigue and shortness of breath, completing health physicals, improved communication with health care professionals, keeping food journals, and weekly goal setting.
GPLC Health Literacy Assistant Delilah Centeno also explained and distributed “Files of Life” forms for emergencies, pill boxes, drinking glasses with health logo to encourage drinking water, pedometers, and other health literacy reminders and information provided by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.
This health literacy outreach project was sponsored by the Great Plains Literacy Council, Southern Prairie Library System, the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, and the Oklahoma State Department of Health. It is funded by a federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.