Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties’ Advance Your Health (AYH) Program
With the Advance Your Health program, residents of Atlantic and Cape May counties get the education and support they need for life-changing wellness practices.
Sharon Spitzer had a family history of diabetes, but never seriously faced her chances of getting it. “I just didn’t want to give up the foods I liked,” she explains. Diabetes was something she would deal with in the future, if she had to. When Sharon’s doctor told her she was pre-diabetic and insulin-resistant, the future had suddenly become “now.”
The doctor recommended Sharon sign up for the Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties’ Advance Your Health (AYH) program. AYH is funded through a generous grant from The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, which is dedicated to supporting organizations that make New Jersey healthier. At AYH, Sharon discovered that controlling diabetes was far different than what she had imagined. It could actually be doable…perhaps even easy.
The program taught her how to create and stick to an action plan built on self-management. She was empowered with information on blood sugar monitoring, stress control, the impact of exercise on glucose levels and more. She learned how to cook differently and enjoy eating out, by avoiding too much of certain foods. Sharon credits her success in part to the positive spirit and nonstop support of the program’s case managers and nurse educators.
Sharon’s motivation grew even more when she started to see results, and held steady from there. “I promised myself that I would continue the good habits I’ve learned from my teachers, and I am,” she reports today. Her latest blood test indicates perfect cholesterol and triglyceride levels. She now feels healthier, in control, hopeful and happy about herself. In short, the AYH program not only saved Sharon’s life, it also may have saved it.
Overcoming barriers to good health is challenging no matter where you are, but particularly so where Sharon lives, in New Jersey’s Atlantic and Cape May Counties. There, obesity affects 26.7 percent of residents. This includes high-risk patients, many of whom are dealing with more than one chronic disease, such as asthma or congestive heart failure. AYH’s personalized, practical approach to helping this population worked wonders for Sharon, and she is not alone. With support from The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, the AYH program is able to help more people where it’s needed most.
“This program is going to change the lives of individuals that otherwise would not have had a chance,” says Sharon Simon, Rothenberg Center for Family Life coordinator at the Jewish Family Service of Atlantic and Cape May Counties. She sums up the mission and impact of AYH this way: “We extend a hand and put them on equal ground to improve their lives and help them live longer.”