HIBBING — For chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease, living with an illness is a day to day struggle with no magic pill.

“Given the fact that the number of older adults are growing and healthcare costs are rising, we need to be thinking more about prevention and wellness,” said Georgia Lane, Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging (AAAA) Program Developer and Katey Fornear, AAAA Program Coordinator. “Eighty percent of our overall healthcare costs come from managing chronic diseases. Yet less than 1 percent of all healthcare dollars are spent on prevention.”

Because of this reality, the AAAA is seeking volunteers and professionals to become leaders to teach “Living Well with Chronic Conditions” workshops.

These workshops are designed to help people with chronic conditions to manage their symptoms and build confidence to maintain an active lifestyle.

Trained leaders guide participants in finding practical ways to deal with chronic conditions as well as to manage the pain, fatigue and depression that accompany the conditions.

“These evidence-based workshops use a standardized, proven methodology to help people develop goals for improved nutrition and exercise, a better understanding of treatment options and improved communications with family and doctors about their health plans,” reads a AAAA release.

Workshops like these are become increasingly necessary as more and more people are affected by chronic conditions, noted Fornear and Lane.

“Fifty percent of adults are living with a chronic physical or mental illness. 1 in 3 adults age 65- plus will fall, and 40 percent of all hospital admissions are due to falls,” Lane explained. “These workshops are geared to help mitigate risks and give people skills to learn how to manage their chronic health conditions while optimizing their quality of life.”

According to the AAA, the ideal workshop leader should have personal experience dealing with an ongoing health concern, or have life experience living with a family member with a chronic illness. Leaders are expected to lead one six-week workshop annually.

People interested in becoming a leader receive 32 hours of classroom training.

The next four-day leader training opportunity is March 23, 24, 30 and 31 at Essentia Health in Duluth. Deadline for leadership training registration is March 10 and is limited to 18 persons. Cost of training is $200 and scholarships are available.

“We offer many scholarships to cover some or all of the costs for volunteers because we are looking for volunteer lay leaders,” Fornear said. “They have often gone through the experience of caring for a loved one or are in the process. They they have gone through one of these workshops, gained a ton from it and want to give back.”

For a registration packet or more information, contact Katey Fornear at 218-529-7531 or kfornear@ardc.org.

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