Aging Well: Instructors help pave way for better health

Nancy Smith, Mary Morris starting classes to help treat chronic conditions

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Nancy Smith

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Mary Morris

Healthier Living Colorado

This six-week workshop provides strategies and support for adults ages 18 and older working to improve their lives while living with a chronic condition. Caregivers are welcome and encouraged to attend. The Aging Well program of the Northwest Colorado VNA offers the program periodically in Routt and Moffat counties.

Upcoming classes:

■ Steamboat

When: 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Jan. 12 through Feb. 16

Where: Rollingstone Respite House

Cost: $20 for materials

Register: 970-871-7676. Space is limited.

■ Craig

When: 1 to 3:30 p.m. Thursdays, Jan. 13 through Feb. 17

Where: Community Health Center

Cost: $20 for materials

Register: 970-871-7676. Space is limited.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of profiles about Aging Well fitness and wellness class instructors in Routt and Moffat counties. This feature appears once per month on the Aging Well page.

Nancy Smith

Classes: Healthier Living Colorado, Tai Chi for Health

Where: Routt County

Nancy Smith is looking forward to some “ah ha” moments.

She soon will teach an upcoming Healthier Living Colorado workshop focused on helping individuals manage their chronic illnesses.

She expects participants will experience more than a few little epiphanies as they discover wellness strategies that fit their personalities and goals for feeling better.

“There are so many chronic conditions that can be addressed by this class,” said Smith, fresh from her Healthier Living Colorado training.

The six-week workshop arms adults of all ages with practical information about healthy choices and tools for navigating the emotional and physical hurdles hindering their efforts to be healthier.

Workshops are scheduled to begin in January in Steamboat and Craig. Smith will be leading the Steamboat class with co-instructor Lynn Bear.

Teaching Healthier Living Colorado is a natural step for Smith, who has been a fitness instructor with the Aging Well program for three years.

She currently teaches Tai Chi for Health at the Steamboat Springs Community Center and occasionally leads Arthritis Foundation Exercise as a substitute instructor.

“I just think it’s exciting to help people manage their health,” she said.

For Smith, one of the biggest benefits of teaching Tai Chi for Health has been seeing participants’ improvements, including better balance and flexibility.

The social aspect of the classes also has been a major benefit for participants. Smith expects the Healthier Living Colorado class will provide a similar social and support outlet as participants connect through shared challenges and victories.

Mary Morris

Class: Healthier Living Colorado

Where: Moffat County

Mary Morris has seen firsthand how living healthier means living better.

She has accompanied many older adults on excursions to nearby and far away destinations, through her work as director of community education and public information for Colorado Northwestern Community College.

These trips can be physically demanding, and Morris has been amazed at the improvements older students make from trip to trip as they improve their lifestyles and become more active.

A Moffat County native, Morris’ job involves connecting older adults in her community with education, exercise and social opportunities. Unfortunately, she has seen how poor health can impede a person’s ability to enjoy life.

This encouraged Morris to become an instructor for the Healthier Living Colorado program offered through the Aging Well program of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

She has taught four workshops already and will be co-teaching a January workshop in Craig with co-instructor Kathy Shea.

“Each class I’ve instructed I’ve watched people apply the knowledge to their lives to make some solid changes that bring positive results,” she said.

The participatory nature of the class creates a dynamic setting where individuals support, relate and learn from one another.

“During the short time we work together, people provide more input into the class, they share and become more assertive,” Morris said. “The self-management strategies are applied within the class format so they are able to be proactive and gain confidence in those decision-making methods.”

The class is for adults of all ages wanting to get a jumpstart on taking care of their chronic condition.

“Bottom line for me when I think about Healthier Living is it’s a boot camp for living healthier longer,” Morris said. “If you don’t self-manage, you can’t enjoy other learning experiences.”

Tamera Manzanares writes for the Aging Well program and can be reached at tmanzanares@nwcovna.org. Aging Well, a division of Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, is a community-based program of healthy aging for adults 50 and older. For more information, visit www.agingwelltoday.com or call 970-871-7676.

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