Help is a two-way street
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Help is a two-way street


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Kay Roberson is a lifelong volunteer. When she heard that Surrey Services for Seniors in Media, PA, was looking for someone to provide manicures to its members, she offered to help.  

“Turns out, Surrey was more helpful to me than I was to anyone,” laughs Kay.


"Not only is my blood sugar down, my self-esteem is way up.” - Kay, class participant

"I have learned about self-management for my diabetes and other problems; 'I will' not 'I’ll try' as a mental discipline; and having an action plan for medicines, memory, and physical activities." - Susan, class participant

While she was volunteering, Kay, who is diabetic, decided to take part in Living a Healthy Life, a class based on Stanford University's Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP).

CDSMP is a proven, six-week program that empowers older adults with chronic disease to better manage their own health.

Under a grant from the Administration for Community Living, NCOA provides technical assistance to communities across the country, so they can make CDSMP available to tens of thousands of older adults.

The small-group workshops are led by trained facilitators, at least one of whom is also coping with a chronic condition. Participants learn how to eat well, exercise, and communicate with their doctors, so they can reduce their symptoms and live better.

Blood sugar down, self-esteem up

With encouragement from the workshop and the Surrey instructor, Kay began attending Silver Sneakers® exercise class three days a week.

At first, the direct benefit was enjoying the companionship of her friends and others during and after the class. But after a few months, Kay had a routine doctor visit. 

To her surprise, the doctor told her that her blood sugar level was the best she had registered in eight years!

Now Kay continues to use the techniques she learned, including being a regular participant in the Silver Sneakers® program.

“The Surrey staff support, encourage, and celebrate each person’s goal and accomplishments,” says Kay. “So, not only is my blood sugar down, my self-esteem is way up.”

Surrey serves 7,500 seniors like Kay at four locations in Pennsylvania and offers lifelong learning, care management, home care, companions, and transportation.

"When I joined the class, I had lots of health issues, which were making me emotionally sad," says Saj, another participant. "By the end of the class, my issues are still there, but my attitude is much better. I’m not doing this program to lose weight, I’m doing it to make myself feel good. It is working!"