State grant expands health program

| 30 Sep 2011 | 09:50

    TRENTON - Nearly $350,000 in federal grants has been awarded 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, is recognized internationally as a premiere, evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention program. Sussex County’s Division of Senior Services received $40,000 to provide the program to its residents. Others received grants ranging from $10,000 to $34,000. The money will be used to recruit and train individuals to become peer leaders and to host the workshops in local communities, among other things. “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. Tina Tan, the state’s acting commission for health and senior services. “Take Control of Your Health gives participants the knowledge, skills and confidence to take a more active role in their health care.” The program is taught as a community workshop held for two and a half 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. 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, 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. To find workshops in there area can find a list of local contacts online at or by calling 1-800-792-8820. The program is also now available in an online version at Developed and tested at the Stanford University Patient Education Center, the online workshop — called Better Choices, Better Health - is offered exclusively through a license from National Council on Aging (NCOA). The online workshops can be particularly useful for those individuals without access to transportation or who prefer the anonymity of a virtual group.