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ASKthe expert
Ann Langford acknowledges medications and chronic pain self-management skills each address the issue but in different ways.
A class to
help manage
chronic pain
The Area Agency on Aging 1-B offers Wellness Classes on a variety of subjects to help keep you on your feet, managing your diabetes, to its newest class on Chronic Pain Management. We talked with Ann Langford, Director, Community and Business Advancement for the AAA 1-B to find out more.
What was the thought behind offering
the Chronic Pain Management classes?
The issue of pain management isn’t new. It may be in the headlines more now because of the opioid crisis, however, pain isn’t new. This federally- funded class, based on Stanford University research, will be offered through next year. The class is a good option for older adults experiencing persistent pain from things like fibromyalgia; arthritis; neck, back and leg issues; headaches; heart failure and more. The class is meant to be
a complement to medication people may be taking.
What can people expect during a Chronic Pain Management class?
Classes include a lesson and an activity to demonstrate it, and partici- pants’ “homework” is based on how they might implement what they’ve learned at home. The following week, there’s a discussion about how the participant’s plan worked in real life and so on.
The classes are relatively small, why is that?
It’s a safe space where people can learn at their own pace, express them- selves, and learn together and share with others.
What kinds of materials come with the class (e.g., workbook, journal, etc.)?
They get course materials like a workbook, handouts, CDs/DVDs, etc. Again, because this is federally-funded the class and materials are free, however, sometimes people choose to give a donation so more classes can be made available.
What will someone learn to help them cope with their pain, and what kinds of results can a person expect?
The goal of the class is for partici- pants to see their pain diminish. Each lesson covers “a tool” like meditation, exercise, distraction, etc. and people can pick or choose the things that work best for them. In this way, they have their own personal “toolkit” to draw upon. The facilitator helps people with their individual choices, answers ques- tions, and gives tips and guidance.
Is there anything else people should know about this class (e.g., wear comfortable clothes, ok to have a caregiver or someone else register with you, etc.)?
You are encouraged to go at your own pace and pick the tools that work best for you. Also having a caregiver or friend/family member with you (someone who spends a lot of time with you) would be great because it will give them insight into your pain needs, what you can do, and how they can support you.
What other classes will be available this year?
We will continue offering Matter
of Balance, Diabetes Management, Chronic Pain Management, and Powerful Tools for Caregivers. We are looking into more caregiver classes that are shorter, like a 1 – 2 hour boot camp on how to be a better caregiver, etc. The thought is that a one-day/ two-hour course would be easier for caregivers to attend.
Note: People can attend classes more than once, but remember you must pre-register. Again, classes are free,
but donations are appreciated as they help to offset costs and also help bring more classes to the community.
Upcoming Wellness Classes
For more information on these classes and others, visit our website and look under the “Senior Health and Wellness” tab.
Chronic Pain Management
This 6-week class will help people age 60+ learn how to manage day-to-day pain symptoms, deal with fatigue, learn how to relax, and work better with healthcare professionals. Class sizes are small so you can share ideas and get support from others. 2.5 hours.
• Turner Senior Resource Center, Ann Arbor – April 2, 10 am – 12:30 pm
• Troy Community Center, Troy – May 2, 1 pm – 3:30 pm D-PATH (Diabetes Management)
This 90-minute class lasts six weeks and focuses on helping people over 50+ with Type 2 Diabetes learn different strategies and options to manage their health better. You’ll learn how to cope with symptoms, learn strategies for healthy eating, find ways to work more effectively with your doctor, and deal with emotional challenges, like depression, anger, frustration and fear.
• Troy Community Center, Troy – March 26, 9:30 am – noon
• Jewish Family Services, Oak Park – April 11, 5 pm – 7:30 pm • Orion Center, Lake Orion – April 19, 6 pm – 8:30 pm
Matter of Balance
Learn how to stay on your feet in the eight-week Matter of Balance course designed for people 60+. These weekly two-hour classes include practical tips and techniques, along with confidence-building and mobility exercises to help you reduce the fear of falling and be more active. 2 hours.
• Troy Community Center, Troy – March 14, 1 pm – 3:00 pm
• Lincoln Golden Ages Senior Center, Ypsilanti – March 21, 1 pm – 3:00 pm
• Carpenter Place Apartments, Ypsilanti – April 6, 1 pm – 3:00 pm
• Sterling Heights Senior Center, Sterling Heights – April 12, 10:00 am – noon
• Huntington Woods Parks & Recreation, Huntington Woods – April 17, 10:00 am - noon
Six-week class will help people age 60+ with conditions like arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, depression or chronic pain learn how to have more energy and less pain, get more exercise, feel more comfortable talking to your doctor, and be more confident that you can manage your health. 2.5 hours.
• Ann Arbor Senior Center, Ann Arbor – July 20, 9 am – 10:30 am

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