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People with chronic illnesses may never know life without their disease. With the help of a new class though, they can experience living by managing their symptoms and live more fully.

The Area Agency on Aging is offering "Be Well Live Well ", a 6-week self management course for people with chronic conditions. The workshop is open to anyone age 60 or older with conditions that aren't likely to go away, such as diabetes, arthritis, asthma, cancer, COPD, congestive heart failure, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, emphysema , fibromyalgia, lung disease, obesity, Parkinson's , stroke, heart disease, asthma, multiple sclerosis, and more.

"One of the main elements of the course is the support of other people," said Angie Dunlap, Be Well Live Well program director. "The first thing we do is to talk about what problems we are facing. Even though there are different illnesses, many of the concerns are the same, like anger, fear and frustration."

"Be Well Live Well" was developed by Stanford University research. Many people with chronic conditions suffer fatigue, pain, anxiety, depression and sleeping problems, symptoms that feed on themselves in a vicious cycle. This course teaches participants how to manage those symptoms and lets them know they are not alone in what they are experiencing.

The class incorporates relaxation activities, lots of conversation and maki ng action plans.  A few topics that the course covers include: managing fatigue, learn how to eat healthier , deal with anger, depression and other negative responses , develop and maintain long-term exercise programs , develop decision-making and problem-solving skills, communicating with family, friends, and physicians.

Each week participants make an action plan - a specific, realistic goal that they want to achieve. It could be as simple as reading a book every night or walking every week, but the important thing is that people try. Members of the class also learn that they are not alone in
feeling all types of emotions . Participants share their fears and problems and then get feedback on how they might deal with them. Participants learn skills to manage their diseases and work effectively with their health care professionals.

The Gentry Senior Activity and Wellness Center (Gentry), Billy V Hall Senior Activity and Wellness Center (Gravette) and the Siloam Springs Senior Activity and Wellness Center (Siloam Springs) are partnering together to offer the "Be Well Live Well" program. The 6 week workshop will be held on Thursdays beginning January 11, 2018 and running through February 15, 20 18 from 1 :00 pm to 3:30 pm at the Siloam Springs Senior Activity and Wellness Center, 750 Heritage Court, Siloam Springs, Arkansas . The senior centers will provide transportation to Siloam Springs for the workshop. Please call the center to register for this free informative course at 479-524-5735. The class size is limited to 16 people, so please call and register early.

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