Setting achievable goals and learning how to manage Diabetic-diets while in a group-setting of peers who are going through the same experience, are among the tools and techniques Lincoln County Cooperative Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences Melinda Houser and county Senior Services’ Nutrition and Health and Wellness Coordinator Sue Brooks will be teaching their students next week. Houser and Brooks are teaming up for the third year to lead the Living Healthy Program — a free, six-week course that specifically address Diabetes and how to self-manage chronic diseases. The duo will discuss ways for participants to cope and make the right changes to live a healthier life. “Chronic diseases effect most of our population — lots of people — not just older adults; it’s all ages,” Houser told the Times-News on Monday. N.C. Cooperative Extension, Lincoln County and the Extension and Community Association are hosting the course, which has various elements that Stanford University designed to equip those living with a disease with the right tools to make a difference in how they feel both mentally and physically. Each week, an action plan that spells out specific, realistic goals for the next seven days, is set by each person in the course to try to accomplish outside of class, Houser said, such as increasing the amount of exercise performed a week and sleeping a healthy amount of hours each night. Whether or not the goal is religiously followed isn’t as important to the instructors as just putting forth the effort and trying. The evidence-based program is peer-taught, Brooks explained, anyone who passes the training and becomes certified is able to lead their own class. But, once licensed, a course must be taught within six months while overseen by a master trainer, and the re-certification process must be completed every year. In previous years, the class has been free, but Brooks worries this may be the last year participants will be able to take part cost-free due to lack of funding. “It’s what people are eating and their lifestyles,” Houser said. “Lifestyle changes have to be made, and if you don’t follow directions on how to handle or manage your disease, it can lead to others (diseases).” Topics to be covered include: techniques to deal with emotional issues related to the disease; exercise to increase strength, flexibility and endurance; how to appropriately use medications; effective communication tools to interact with family, friends and doctors and nutrition. Houser and Brooks stress that this course isn’t specifically for seniors — anyone who is suffering from Diabetes or another disease is welcome to attend — and that this program shouldn’t replace other health treatments the participant may already be using. “It’s already hard enough to deal with all the changes when you’re diagnosed,” Brooks said. “Here you can meet with a group of people who all have the same problems, and realize that you’re not the only one out there with them (problems); a lot of others have them, too.” Attendees will receive copies of “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions” and an audio relaxation tape. Each Monday starting next week through Oct. 22, those registered will meet at the Citizen’s Center in Lincolnton, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., where lunch will be provided. However, space is limited so preregistration is required by tomorrow. For more information, call (704)736-8461.