Guatemala, 9 November 2018 (PAHO/WHO) - Don Manuel Cac is 75 years old and has begun to pay more attention to his health since graduating from the “Take control of your health” program, which aims to promote self-care among Guatemala’s elderly population living with noncommunicable diseases.

145 other senior citizens participated in workshops on healthy lifestyles and self-care

Every Wednesday, for the past seven weeks, Don Manuel, along with other adults from San José la Comunidad, municipality of Mixco, living with hypertension, diabetes and other chronic illnesses, attended the training given by leaders from the Secretary of Social Work of the President’s Wife. These leaders were trained by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to promote this initiative in the Region that was originally created by Stanford University.

Guatemala senior citizens

“I really enjoyed the training. I didn’t miss any of the talks where they encouraged us to take care of our health,” said Don Manuel, who lives with hypertension and joint pain. The knowledge and skills acquired on the course has made him feel more motivated and empowered to take better care of his health.

In addition to Don Manuel, 145 other senior citizens from nine National Elderly care centers’ “My Golden Years” programs, and a group from the Guatemala Social Security Institute’s Comprehensive Medical Care for Pensioners Center, participated in workshops on healthy lifestyles and self-care.

Don Manuel and other senior citizens

During the course, participants learned to control their blood pressure and diabetes, do more physical activity, eat smaller portions, drink more water, interpret food labelling, take medicines on time, take care of relationships and friendships, and develop action plans with clear goals in order to take care of their health.

It is expected that “Take control of your health” will be rolled out in other comprehensive care centers for the elderly to promote the healthy aging of thousands of elderly people in the country

Noncommunicable diseases, including cardiovascular diseases and cancer, are the leading cause of death in the region and in the world. 48% of these deaths occur prematurely, before the age of 70.

“The initiative is being implemented in 12 countries of the Americas since 2015 and Guatemala has joined via the program of the President’s wife and the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance,” said Oscar Barreneche, the country representative of PAHO/WHO. According to him, the initiative “empowers older adults to take control of their health and avoid complications that can put their lives at risk.”

Until 2017, 50 trainers and 230 program leaders in the Region have been provided with the skills to continue running these workshops on an ongoing basis. Since the initiative began in the Region three years ago, more than 2,000 patients have graduated from the program.

In Guatemala, it is expected that “Take control of your health” will be rolled out in other comprehensive care centers for the elderly and via the Guatemalan Social Security Institute in order to promote the healthy aging of thousands of elderly people in the country. Better disease control means a better quality of live for the elderly and their families.