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Workshops help people cope with chronic illnesses

People who face ongoing health conditions could benefit from attending self-management workshops, according to medical experts.A free weekly workshop series being held in Niagara County assists those with a wide range of chronic illnesses and their caregivers live healthier, happier lifestyles. People who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic pain, arthritis or anxiety and caregivers are encouraged to attend.

Daniel Stapleton, Niagara County’s public health director, said his staff has worked with the Department of Aging to develop a program with proven results.

“These are all evidence-based programs, meaning they are proven to reduce the incidence of chronic disease, and also, either lessen or completely eliminate the chronic disease people are inflicted with,” he said.

Stapleton says those who care for others with chronic illnesses are at greater risk of suffering from chronic illnesses.

“We find quite often that the caregiver, after a while, [they] wear themselves out so much by taking care of the person with the chronic disease that their own health can be at risk.”

Workshop participants develop problem-solving and decision-making skills that make it easier to grapple with challenges that come with chronic illnesses. Studies of previous participants found that individuals who completed the program had better coping skills and fewer emergency room visits or hospitalizations.

The workshops will be held in three locations over six weeks. The first series began at EMPOWER in Niagara Falls on July 5. Another workshop will be held at the North Tonawanda Public Library on Friday, July 8 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Calvin Richards Community Center in Niagara Falls will begin its first session on Tuesday, July 12 from 12:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Each workshop is limited to 15-20 attendees. Those looking to attend must first register by contacting the Niagara County Department of Health at (716) 278-1900 or NY Connects through the Office of Aging at 438-3030.

Groups interested in hosting future workshops may call the Nursing Division at 278-1900.