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DHS news release

May 8, 2008

General contact: Bonnie Widerburg, 971-673-1282
Program contact: Jennifer Mead, 503-373-2109

New grant will help DHS expand self-management program

Oregon is one of eight states to receive a grant from the National Council on Aging to improve older adult access to the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, proven to be effective in reducing disease, disability and injury among seniors.

The Oregon Department of Human Services will use the three-year, $300,000 grant to further develop its current "Living Well" program, which is modeled on the Stanford program.

The program uses peer leaders to help teach people with a wide variety of chronic conditions including diabetes, arthritis, asthma and heart disease to care for themselves so they can live more fully. Participants learn from one another how to deal with common issues like communicating better with health care providers, coping with pain and depression, and adapting to changes brought on by their chronic conditions.

"Living Well is a well-tested approach to helping people with chronic conditions care for themselves," said Mel Kohn, M.D., state epidemiologist in DHS. "People with chronic conditions may see a doctor several times each year, but the rest of the time, they are managing their own health."

Living Well has operated in 20 Oregon counties since 2002 and more than 1,500 Oregonians ranging from 13 to 96 years have participated in it. The six-week progam is also offered in Spanish as Tomando Control de Su Salud, and offered as a seven-week Positive Self-Management for People with HIV/AIDS.

Kohn said the new funding will help Oregon move faster and more systematically toward sustained statewide programming, with an emphasis on reaching diverse and vulnerable populations.

"As Oregon's population ages, programs like Living Well are increasingly important in helping people live with chronic conditions and remain independent," says James Toews, DHS assistant director for seniors and people with disabilities. "They give participants more of what they want -- improved health, increased independence, better communication with physicians and fewer doctor and hospital visits."

The National Council on Aging grants are intended to help states design and establish systems that lead to statewide access to well-known, evidence-based self-management programs for people with chronic conditions. Strategies and tools that prove successful among the funded states will be shared so that older adults across the nation can benefit from these valuable programs. California, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wisconsin also received grants.

The Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program has been widely adopted in countries around the world including Canada, Australia and England. DHS is currently using funds from the Administration on Aging and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support Living Well, Tai Chi and physical activity programs in four areas of the state.