Best Life: Health coach, someone in your corner

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 6:51 AM CDT
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SEATTLE, Wash. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - We are all looking for the next wonder drug that can cure whatever ails us.

However, according to a recent landmark study, social connection can be just as important as a prescription pill.

Among other things, it can strengthen the immune system, and help us recover from disease faster.

A Seattle area hospital has taken the concept to the next level by introducing community and wellness to its patients who have chronic conditions.

“I’ve been sort of keeping gaining weight. I’ve been having a lot of falls,” said Georgia Henney.

That is how Georgia met Alex Yonkman, her health coach. The six-month-long one-to-one program trains volunteers in the community to support patients with chronic conditions.

“I thought to myself, this young whippersnapper isn’t going to know anything about this old lady, and then I decided to rethink that, and I am thrilled,” said Henney.

Henney and Yonkman, a pre-med student, met weekly carving out a plan to improve her health.

“A big interest for me was nutrition,” said Yonkman.

“That’s the piece of the puzzle that has just, I’ve just not conquered that. I eat from the buffet where I live. I mean, you could have ice cream anytime you wanted,” said Henney.

That’s now been replaced by healthier options.

“I have vegetables. If I don’t get enough for dinner, I throw a bag of frozen in the microwave, that fills me up,” said Henney.

“She had all the tools. It was just a matter of setting them down on paper as goals and sticking to the goals,” said Alex Yonkman a Health Coach at Valley Medical Center.

Research shows that having a support person, like Yonkman, can reduce stress and improve overall health.

“I would say, the biggest thing that’s changed is her view of herself,” said Yonkman.

That led Henney to start exercising to prevent further falls.

“I like what I’m doing,” said Henney.

“We developed a true friendship,” said Yonkman.

“Alex is in my corner,” said Henney.

Health coaches at Valley Medical Center are also trained to support patients dealing with COPD, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Meetings can be in-person or online.

If you’re interested in having your own health coach, check with your health insurance company to find out about similar resources in your area.

Contributors to this news report include: Jennifer Winter, Producer; Joe Alexander-Short, Videographer Roque Correa, Editor.

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