Walter's Story
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Walter's Story

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Better Choices, Better Health

NCOA offers an online version of the chronic disease workshop that helped Walter. See how to enroll.

In December 2006, Walter Langford suffered a near fatal hemorrhagic stroke at just 57 years old.

He had hypertension without even knowing it, and his lifestyle had not helped.

“I was a junk food junkie,” Langford says. “Three to four Dr. Peppers a day, candy
bars, and fried food for lunch. I never exercised, so I was approximately 60 pounds overweight.”

The devastating stroke and a local chronic disease workshop led him to a radical transformation.

“A few months post-stroke, I was very angry about it all,” Langford recalls. “I was floundering in self-doubt and self-pity.”

Learning How to Cope

Then he heard about the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) being offered at the Central Texas Area Agency on Aging. CDSMP is a proven, six-week program that empowers older adults with chronic disease to better manage their own health.

Under a grant from the Administration on Aging, NCOA is providing technical assistance to 46 states, DC, and Puerto Rico in their efforts to make CDSMP available to tens of thousands of older adults across the country.

The small-group workshops are led by trained facilitators, at least one of whom is also coping with a chronic condition. Participants learn how to eat well, exercise, and communicate with their doctors, so they can reduce their symptoms and live better.

Langford says he learned all this and more.

“Through proper nutrition and regular exercise, I’ve lost 60 pounds and have managed to keep it off for over three years. I eat to live rather than live to eat. I go to a local health club three times a week and work out on average for an hour and a half each time. Junk food is a thing of the past for me.”

Making these lifestyle changes has allowed him to cut back on his hypertension medication.

A Member of the Team

Langford also has developed a new relationship with his doctors.

“I’m not afraid to ask questions or to ask for clarification for instructions,” he explains. “I’m a member of the team—it’s my life and my body, therefore, it’s important that I play an active part in my health care. I am the manager of my health.”

After successfully completing the CDSMP workshop, Langford was encouraged to take the training to become a volunteer leader and facilitator. He agreed and has since taken additional training to become a certified Master Trainer. He now hopes to help others regain control of their lives.

“Life is not a spectator sport, so we must be willing to do all that we have to do to get back in the game,” Langford says. “Life is worth living, but you have to be willing to try!”

P.S. Langford says he could not have had a successful recovery and done the things he did without the love and support of his wife and family.

In-Person Workshops in Your Area

NCOA's Center for Healthy Aging brings in-person, community-based CDSMP workshops to individuals across the country.

Through funding from the U.S. Administration on Aging, these offerings are currently promoted to thousands of people in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

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