NJ Expands Program to Help Older Adults Self-Manage Chronic Diseases

TRENTON – New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Acting Commissioner Dr. Tina Tan announced Monday that the department has awarded nearly $350,000 in federal grants to 18 agencies to expand a community-based program that helps older adults better manage their chronic diseases.

The program, called Take Control of Your Health in New Jersey, was developed by the School of Medicine at Stanford University in California as the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) and is recognized internationally as a premiere, evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention program.


“Asthma, diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and other chronic conditions pose serious challenges for older adults on a day-to-day basis,” said Dr. Tan. “Take Control of Your Health gives participants the knowledge, skills and confidence to take a more active role in their health care.”

Take Control of Your Health is a community workshop held for 2½ hours once a week for six weeks. Workshops are provided at no or low cost, and are offered periodically in all 21 New Jersey counties. Some workshops are conducted in other languages and the grant funding announced today expands program delivery to individuals who speak Chinese, Spanish, French-Creole and Korean.

The grants, which ranged from $10,000 to $34,000, will be used to recruit and train individuals to become peer leaders, and to host Take Control of Your Health workshops in their communities. Funds will also be used to integrate chronic disease self-management screening questions into the aging network’s information and assistance and assessment processes in order to identify those individuals who may benefit from participation.

During workshops, participants learn strategies for managing symptoms, working with health care professionals, setting weekly goals, problem-solving, relaxing, handling difficult emotions, eating well, and exercising safely and easily.

Dr. Tan said the program has produced positive results for participants wherever it has been offered. People completing the course report improvements in physical activity, stamina and pain control, better communication with their health care providers, and reduced doctor and hospital visits.

The program has grown dramatically in New Jersey since 2006, when only one person was certified as a master trainer able to train peer leaders. Today, the state has 130 master trainers, 300 peer leaders, and more than 3,000 people have completed a community workshop.

The agencies awarded Take Control of Your Health grants include:

  • Salem County Office on Aging ($21,000)
  • Somerset County Office on Aging ($34,000)
  • Sussex County Division of Senior Services ($40,000)
  • Puerto Rican Assn. for Human Development (PRAHD), Middlesex Co. ($22,500)
  • Jefferson Park Ministries, Union ($22,500)
  • Hoy Sun Ning Young Benevolent Association, Atlantic ($22,500)
  • Saint Peter’s University Hospital, Middlesex ($31,000)
  • Community Services Inc. of Ocean County ($31,000)
  • Camden Area Health Education Center (AHEC) ($22,500)
  • United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ, Essex ($22,500)
  • Prevention Links, Union ($10,000)
  • Hunterdon Prevention Resources, Hunterdon ($10,000)
  • Robert Wood Johnson Hamilton Center for Health and Fitness, Mercer ($10,000)
  • RVSP of Burlington County ($10,000)
  • Morris County Prevention is Key ($10,000)
  • CentraState Medical Center, Monmouth ($10,000)
  • Mercer County Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction ($10,000)
  • Hackensack City Department of Health, Bergen ($10,000)

Individuals looking for Take Control of Your Health workshops in there area can find a list of local contacts on-line at www.state.nj.us/health/senior/cdsmp, or by calling 1-800-792-8820.

The program is also now available in an on-line version at www.selfmanage.org. Developed and tested at the Stanford University Patient Education Center, the on-line workshop – called Better Choices, Better Health™ – is offered exclusively through a license from National Council on Aging (NCOA). The on-line workshops can be particularly useful for those individuals without access to transportation or who prefer the anonymity of a virtual group.

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