Paul Nicholson is in relatively good health, but at nearly 80 years old he suffers from what he jokingly refers to as “chronic old age.” And along with age have come a few aches and pains.

Thankfully, Paul has a support network to help him meet and manage his changing health needs while living a healthy, fulfilling life.

Paul attended one of Fairview’s six-week Living Well workshops, which bring together community members facing similar challenges for weekly sessions of discussion, education and encouragement.

One step at a time

Facilitated by two peer leaders who also live with chronic conditions, Living Well workshops teach participants how to deal with feelings of frustration or isolation, healthy eating, goal-setting, exercise, medication use, and how to communicate with family, friends and health professionals. The workshops emphasize setting small, achievable goals each week.

“Each session includes a number of activities from short lessons to action planning to brainstorming,” says Megan Chacon, Fairview community health outreach assistant manager. “The sessions are very interactive, and each week group members create an action plan for something they will complete over the course of the next week.”

Paul says the workshops taught him new techniques for better sleep and healthy eating, and that making a few small changes has helped him improve his quality of life.

“Living Well gave me the discipline and the determination to try to have a healthier diet,” says Paul. “I felt I wasn’t getting enough green leafy vegetables, so I set a goal to eat at least one salad every other day.”

Stronger together

For Paul, the connections formed with other workshop participants also encouraged him to make healthy lifestyle changes.

“It was very helpful to have the other people there,” he says. “We laughed a lot together and they were very supportive of me. Some of them even called to check if I was eating my salads.”

Paul isn’t the only participant who benefited from Living Well. Overall, participants experience significant improvements in exercise, social interactions, communication with physicians, energy level and more. They also spend fewer days in the hospital and report better general health.

In 2017, Fairview Community Health plans to host 21 Living Well workshops to provide even more community members with the tools that they need to live their best life.

You can help this program continue to improve the lives of people with chronic diseases throughout Minnesota by making a tax-deductible donation today.