An Interview with Jeanne Dairaghi and NC Center for Health and Wellness
Jeanne Dairaghi, Grant Manager
1. What is your organization’s interest in the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance?
In 2016, the NC Center for Health and Wellness established the Healthy Aging NC Initiative to address the prevalence and impact of chronic diseases in older adults by increasing the capacity for and access to evidence-based programs that address health matters.
The Healthy Aging NC Initiative is North Carolina’s statewide resource center that offers easy access to, and information on, evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention programs. Healthy Aging NC connects people and agencies to the programs that improve community health, increases the capacity of agencies to offer these programs, maintains a website with current program information and online registration, and collects the data to create outcomes reports.
Being a partner of OAAA allows NCCHW access to cutting-edge information about Arthritis, innovative resources and webinars, and networking and collaborative opportunities, which is in turn shared with agencies across the state.
In addition, in 2018, NCCHW received a Walk With Ease mini-grant from OAAA to increase the number of certified Walk With Ease leaders and programs across the state. This opportunity has led to collaborations with Area Agencies on Aging, senior centers, and parks and recreation facilities across the state to increase safe walking through the group-led and self-directed versions of the Walk With Ease program.
2. What do you think is the most important issue today related to osteoarthritis?
Educating North Carolinians on the positive health effects of safe and regular physical activity is vital. As the Physical Activity Guidelines 2nd Edition describes, older adults should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.
Physical activity can help adults with Arthritis to ease arthritis pain, improve function, enhance mood, and enhance quality of life. In addition, regular physical activity among adults with osteoarthritis lowers the risk of getting other chronic diseases, such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes, and helps maintain a healthy body weight. Evidence-based programs like Walk With Ease and Tai Chi for Arthritis and Falls Prevention provide guided physical activity that is safe and effective.
3. How does your work connect to issues in osteoarthritis?
North Carolina ranks as the 9th highest state for a population of adults who are 60 years old and older, with 81% of adults 65 and older reporting at least one chronic disease. These chronic diseases include Arthritis for over 2 million adults, and about half of adults with heart disease (49%) or diabetes (47%) have Arthritis, as do one-third (31%) of those who are obese.
Being connected to OAAA and issues with Osteoarthritis allows a continued focus on the best practices to address chronic disease in North Carolina. With the CDC funding, the NCCHW works in partnership with the OAAA, NC Division of Aging and Adult Services, and others to a) Increase access to the evidence-based programs of Walk With Ease, Living Healthy with Chronic Pain Self-Management (CPSMP), and Enhance Fitness, b) Work with health care providers to raise awareness about evidence-based programs and the importance of physical activity/walking, c) Promote walking through Walk With Ease and walking initiatives, and d) Raise awareness about Arthritis.
4. What is a headline you’d like to see about osteoarthritis in five years?
Rates of Osteoarthritis in North Carolina on the Decline; North Carolinians are Moving More and Feeling Healthier.
5. What is one interesting fact you’d like people to know about your organization?
The Healthy Aging NC website offers a one-stop resource to access evidence-based programs, training opportunities, resources, and information on healthy aging, with a special emphasis on the management of chronic health conditions and fall prevention.