An initiative of The N.C. Center for Health & Wellness at UNC Asheville

More Healthy Aging NC Success Stories

Quotes from leaders, patients and providers about the Living Healthy with Chronic Pain Self-Management Program

“Chronic pain has become a chronic disease by itself, regardless of the cause.” — Dr. Chad Helmick, CDC

“The chronic pain self-management program has been getting patients to do things that I haven’t been able to get them to do.” ~ Provider

“I have seen such a change in my patients attending the pain class.” ~ Provider

“This class has taught me how to be more involved with my care, how to pace myself, and set realistic goals.” ~ Patient

“I greatly admire the design of the CPSMP. It allowed people to open up about their inability to deal with pain in socially acceptable and legal ways and to begin trying new techniques.” ~CPSMP Leader

“I had a participant tell me before the program had started that she had attended several classes and workshops and they were a waste of time. She wanted to know what was different about CPSMP and told me to cut the “********”, she didn’t have time to waste because she was tired, dealing with pain, and didn’t want to come if it was like the other programs. I told her about the programs (CDSMP, DMSP, and CPSMP) and asked her to please come and just give it a try., and if she didn’t like it she was more than welcome to stop attending. She came and fell in love with the workshop. She brought a friend and they were the first ones there weekly. She told me that this class was different and it actually did help her in ways she didn’t realize. At that moment I fell in love with the program even more.” ~CPSMP Leader

Living Healthy with Diabetes (DSMP) Success Stories

      Renee, 40 years old, was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes in March 2016 and admitted that she struggled to lose weight and get healthier on her own. Luckily, her medical providers and friends were there to help her out.

        Renee’s medical providers recommended she join the Diabetes Self Management Program, and her friends recommended that she join them in taking free Zumba classes at the local church. She took both pieces of advice to heart and she is better for it: “I’m trying to watch how I eat, I’ve finished a Nurse Aid class at the community college, and I now do 5Ks with my buddies.”

        Renee credits the DSMP with showing her how to make action plans for the week and feels that setting small goals is helpful. The action plans encouraged her to start checking her blood sugar on a regular basis and to eat better.  She also enjoys the buddy system to help overcome being scared or nervous about doing an action plan. “We call each other up,” she explains, “We say ‘you’ve got this—you’re already there’!”  

        Renee has thought about becoming a leader in the program to encourage others and show that we can become healthier.  Her most important piece of advice to others? “Just stick with the program—it is a lifestyle change, you may experience setbacks but don’t get disappointed.”

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        Martha, 65, is a mentor of the Diabetes Self Management Program (DSMP), and describes herself as “a graduate of the program”. Before becoming a mentor she had been involved in the program for five years.

        After an onslaught of health problems, she discovered an article in the paper advertising the DSMP program and made the decision to attend. She has never looked back!

        Martha stresses how valuable the program is because of the sense of community that is present. She mentions how her struggle was mental, but with the help of those within the program, she now views the vulnerability she experienced as “true strength”.

        The greatest reward for Martha is seeing participants grow within the program as well. “It is so exciting” seeing how dedicated her participants are. Through fostering a welcoming, inclusive environment, Martha has seen great improvement in those within the program!

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      Beverly, 65 years old, went through a dark period when she didn’t want to get out of her bed.  Struggling with depression and diabetes, her doctors recommended that she call the YWCA about a membership and joining the Diabetes Self Management Program.

        “I was able to come in and felt good about it,” Beverly explains. She has now been attending the DSMP and feels the information is “really good”, plus she feels it is an open format where you can get feedback on information that may not be understandable at first.

        Beverly is happy to say that she has met friends through the program and has been encouraged that her peers keep coming back week after week. She and others push each other and talk about similar issues and concerns.

        Beverly explains that the biggest benefit is “not getting to a place where I can’t take care of myself.”  She is working on losing weight and was recently cleared by her doctors to start exercising at the pool. “My doctors are really pleased,” she says with a smile.

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       Peggy, 56 years old, is proud to call herself a “gym-rat”—explaining that she is at the YWCA 5-6 days a week, enjoying water aerobics in particular. Her life was not always this positive, however.

       Nine years ago, Peggy found out that she had Type II Diabetes and struggled to lose weight and stay active. She had experienced multiple surgeries and had been in pain. Her doctor sent a referral for her to join the Diabetes Self Management Program. “I’ve learned so much in the short time that I’ve been coming to this class,” she explains. She has learned how to cut out soda and drink seltzer water instead. She now knows more about good vs bad fats, and reads food labels. In addition, the action plans have helped her to keep up with her blood sugar and she has a Fit Bit to help her monitor her exercise and eating.

       Peggy loves the support and camaraderie of the program—everyone shares problems and solutions, and she has discovered tips that she hadn’t thought of before. Peggy also credits the instructors for their support and knowledge, and has thought about becoming a mentor to others. “You are welcomed like a family, everyone accepts one another,” she shares with a smile, “That has helped me the most.”

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Walk With Ease: A trained leader’s perspective

Ellen is a native of the Asheville area and a Lecturer with the Health and Wellness Promotion Department of UNC Asheville. She enjoys teaching, training and encouraging individuals to find a passion for activity and awareness through movement. Ellen was trained as a Walk With Ease leader in June 2018 and since then has led both group-led and self-directed versions of the program.

Q: How would you describe the Walk With Ease program for someone who might be interested?

A: Walk With Ease is a knowledge-based supportive walking program. It is built around community support, so participants can have peer support and qualified evidence-based information. It will help you develop a routine, skills, and better habits and holds you accountable to these things.

Q: What got you interested in being a leader of Walk With Ease?

A: I have always had a passion for anything related to fitness. I have volunteered for programs in my community, such as the Red Cross, and worked in different fitness-related fields. For me it was an obvious next step when a grant opportunity came up with the NC Center for Health and Wellness, to get more involved in the community and lead Walk With Ease.

Q: How has leading this program changed your perspective on chronic illnesses?

A: People want to be physically active and this program provides the support and tools to be successful.

Q: What is the most important thing for people to know about programs like this one?

A: It’s all about connecting people to knowledge, resources, and support. Q: Do you have a most memorable moment from leading programs? A: In one of my Health and Wellness classes we were able to get four students certified in Walk with Ease and we offered a class at Brooks Howell Home for residents and staff. It was a really special moment watching my students teach these skills to help individuals become healthier. Q: Is there anything you want to add? A: I just want to encourage people to sign up to be certified and lead courses like Walk With Ease. It’s fun and helps people.

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Janice, 60, participated in one of Healthy Aging NC’s evidence-based programs, Walk With Ease, in the summer of 2018. We sat down with her to ask some questions about her experience with this program.

Q: What do programs like Walk With Ease mean to you?

A: These programs are support groups where people can interact with others who have similar problems. They are a way for people to not to feel so isolated, while still being fun and active.

Q: What things did you do during this program?

A: First the group met and everyone got accustomed to each other, then we did some stretches to warm up. Next, we briefly discussed the book and then it was time to walk. It was a small class and everyone who wanted a walking partner paired up with one. It was good to get out of the office and refresh the mind and the body.

Q: What was the most helpful part of the program for you? Do you still use any things you learned?

A: The stretches were the most useful part for me. I still use them in my day to day life. They are good because I can do them in an office environment during breaks from work.

Q: How did this program help your understanding of chronic pain and chronic conditions?

A: It taught me to accept what happened. I can keep pushing forward. You don’t just have to sit down and give up. Our bodies were meant to move. Self-management programs help keep you accountable because you have the chance to interact with other participants, as opposed to self-help programs where you are alone.

Q: What is one thing you would like others to know about this program?

A: It’s there, it’s free. It may help you if you give it a chance. You always leave the doctors office feeling like you have questions, and programs like this can help you with those questions. It is a support system. The doctor doesn’t have time for everything but there are people out there who do have time for you to share your fears. You don’t have to be alone you can build a support network.