People Power: Workshop Helps California Seniors Live Healthier
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People Power: Workshop Helps California Seniors Live Healthier

April 12, 2012

by Robert Robinson, California

I’m always on the lookout for programs and activities to bring to Broadway Heights Community Council, a local community organization that I founded and run for my neighborhood. The director of the County of San Diego’s Aging & Independence Services suggested we include the CDSMP workshop. 

Our members were enthusiastic, including me, since our neighborhood is comprised in large part of retired people who have a variety of chronic health conditions. We set up the meeting room, my garage, with tables and chairs and filled it with over 18 people.

I am a big believer in peer support action groups, so I was confident that this workshop would benefit me and others in terms of personal health, as well as community health. I was not disappointed. In a short six weeks, I had tools and reminders to make some significant changes in the way that I take care of myself. 

First, I utilized the communication skills on my next visit to the doctor. I came armed with a list of medications and questions and some “I” messages. My doctor seemed pleased that I took charge of the conversation and kept it on track. I was able to eliminate one medication entirely and create a plan for reducing the need for another. 

My wife and I took a look at our meals and made adjustments to portion sizes up to 50% on some items like meats and starches, while adding in more vegetables, fruits, and nuts. It is amazing how quickly I began to experience a better energy level and better digestion.

Even more satisfying was the change in our neighbors. They have banded together to form exercise walking groups that have had the added effect of improving relationships, as the neighbors meet newcomers and welcome them during their walks and keep an eye out for problems such as  graffiti or other vandalism. We instituted a group email to encourage workshop attendance and getting the “action plans” done since peer support is key to the program. 

The program was a perfect match for how we improve things in our community. There is power in people contact. Having a support group is the key to achieving the changes you want to make and making them last.


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