Anne Brown decided to enroll in an OASIS class in the summer of 2011 that she says changed her life. According to Anne, the class – Living a Healthy Life: Chronic Disease Self-Management – helped her take control of the aging process, as well as many other aspects of her life.
“It was an empowering experience,” Anne says of the class that she took at the OASIS in St. Louis. “I learned that I can be in control of my life and my health and that I can use my mind and attitude to impact my health."
The class, which is based on the Chronic Disease Self Management Program (CDSMP) developed by Stanford University, is an interactive six-week course designed to enhance regular treatment and disease specific education such as cardiac rehabilitation and diabetes instruction. Most class participants have at least one chronic health condition.
Diane Suter, OASIS Community Health Coordinator in St. Louis, MO, says that each week, participants are guided by trained leaders through exercises that help them become advocates for their own health. Part of the instruction involves developing weekly action plans and goals, and then discussing those items with peers.
“It is a highly participatory class with lots of discussion,” Diane says. “We talk about dealing with health care professionals, assertiveness, positive thinking, how to manage symptoms and the importance of nutrition and exercise. We also do some relaxation exercises, some guided imagery and meditation.”
Diane facilitated Anne’s class and says that Anne became very proactive about taking charge of her health. “She arrived each week with an action plan that was very realistic and she talked about changing her lifestyle,” Diane says. “She was a like a sponge, taking in information and then putting it into practice.”
Anne, who suffers from high blood pressure and had glucose levels that had to be screened for diabetes, agrees. I learned so much about the need for daily exercise and nutrition, but the action plan was really valuable to help me put it into practice,” she says.
Plus, Anne says the camaraderie that developed among class participants enhanced the experience for her. “We met for a couple of hours each week and we got to know and care for each other,” she says. “We held each other accountable and talked through goals and problems and action plans together.”
A retired teacher, Anne currently works as a permanent substitute in the Rockwood School District in St. Louis County. She also tutors students preparing for the ACT and SAT exams. She has taken other OASIS classes and says that since this class, she is enjoying “retirement” even more.
“The class opened my eyes to the process of aging and the opportunity to do it with awareness and happiness. I no longer have to be screened for diabetes and I am thrilled. I stepped onto the path of being an active self-manager in every area of my life and I intend to stay on this path for the rest of my life.”