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Carol Bradley Bursack, Published February 22 2009

MeritCare workshops are helpful

Dear Readers: Each year, MeritCare offers a series of “Living Well Workshops.” I mention these workshops yearly, as I’ve been told by people who’ve attended them in the past that they offer great tips on managing chronic health issues with fewer medications and more quality of life. This year, I asked Rich Preussler, “Living Well” coordinator, to answer some questions.

Q: What is life like for someone with an ongoing health problem?

A: It can be very challenging. One must not only deal with the health condition itself, but also try to keep it from affecting everyday activities such as being with friends and family, working and enjoying hobbies.

What is the “Living Well Workshop?” Who is it for and how can it help?

It is a six-session workshop MeritCare offers to the community, free of charge, where you learn and use general self-management tools to address health challenges. People with any kind of chronic health conditions are welcome (diabetes, arthritis, MS, fibromyalgia, depression, cancer, being overweight and others). Most people with an ongoing health condition experience pain, fatigue, difficult emotions and stress, so the workshop is helpful regardless of the disease.

What about the caregivers?

We welcome caregivers to the workshop. There is stress and often there are other difficult emotions that the caregiver must cope with. Caregivers participate in the workshop and have found it to be very helpful. Sometimes they participate without the care recipient.

What is “self-management”?

Self-management is the way people manage their symptoms, activities and emotional changes on a daily basis. Self-management tools include relaxation, problem solving, setting your own weekly achievable goals, ways to deal with pain, fatigue, difficult emotions and more. “Living Well” helps you decide for yourself what successful health changes you are ready to make. MeritCare offers this proven program as part of our Community Benefit Initiatives.

How can I get involved and when are the workshops offered?

Register by calling MeritCare at (701) 234-5570 or toll free at (877) 234-4240. Workshops are available days and evenings in various community locations. Upcoming MeritCare “Living Well Workshops” will be held in Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo, Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Hillsboro, Perham, Wahpeton, Mahnomen, and Grand Forks.

Bursack is the author of “Minding Our Elders,” a support book on family elder care, and maintains a Web site at www.mindingourelders.com. To view past columns, go to www.inforum.com and click on columnists. Readers can reach Bursack at carol@mindingourelders.com or write her at The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107