Jane Reath, 93, of Fremont, Michigan, has never been one to slow down.
She’s been active all her life, said Norm Reath, her husband of 69 years.
She’s a mother to three daughters. She has served on the local mental health board and the state school board. She holds the honorable distinction of being the first woman to serve on the school board for Fremont Public Schools.
Alongside her civic duties, she’s always been physically active, too.
Her health journey hit a snag in 2014, however, shortly after she underwent shoulder surgery. She attended outpatient rehabilitation, yet she never quite regained all her mobility.
She participated regularly in group exercise classes, although as time progressed, she found herself stumbling a bit.
Fearing she’d slow others down, she decided to stop attending classes and instead exercise on her own.
A custom plan
Typically, Jane would walk a few miles around the lake near her home. On one of those walks in summer of 2016, she couldn’t help but notice feeling a little strange.
“I thought I was getting stiff,” she said.
After that, she started walking less and less.
To help Jane avoid a fall on her occasional excursions, Norm gave his wife a walker.
He also gave her a stationary bike to ride when the mood hit.
Only by then, it didn’t hit often.
“I would look at the bike in the room and say to myself that I would do it tomorrow,” Jane said. “It was so easy to push it off until tomorrow. Then I started to back off. I lost all confidence in my mobility and it started to get worse.”
In July 2018, Jane broke her foot while trying to step off a dock and onto a boat.
In the aftermath, she found herself largely immobile.
Her worried daughters encouraged her to try a new program at Tamarac, the Spectrum Health wellness center in Fremont, Michigan.
The program, Momentum, connects patients and their providers to certified fitness specialists and other health care professionals who help build a fitness program customized to the individual.
Jane knew she couldn’t just sit at home. She had to do something.
With one foot still in an orthopedic boot, she enrolled in Momentum.
By partnering with Jane’s health care team, Momentum helped establish a sustainable pathway toward improving her overall health and wellness, said J.J. Schafer, a fitness specialist at Tamarac.
“The program is open to anyone who wants to incorporate the health benefits of exercise into overall wellness,” Schafer said. “You don’t need to be a Tamarac member to participate and we customize plans to accommodate everyone’s fitness level.”
Tamarac houses a wellness center, an extensive outpatient rehab program and other health and wellness initiatives.
Jane did everything her instructors asked of her, Norm said.
“She has that grit,” he said. “Days that she is off, she has exercises to do at home.
“She used bean cans until her daughters got her weights,” he said. “She amazes me with what she does at home. The slowing down of a woman who was always active is hard to see.”
Ultimately, Momentum helped Jane rebuild her confidence, Norm said.
“And she’s back,” he said, lauding his wife’s recovery.
For her part, Jane said her posture has improved—and people have noticed.
She’s walking taller and straighter, with more control. She doesn’t have to look at the ground when she’s walking.
“I pick my feet up more and feel like I have more control and mobility,” she said. “We have 100 steps from the beach to the top of the hill. I do 50 of them, two to three times per day in the warmer months and that exercise is helping. In the winter I use the track at Tamarac.”
As Jane has gained more independence, Norm has noticed a renewed positivity to her outlook on life.
The close-knit family is enjoying all the rewards that go with that.
“I’m fine, my knees are fine,” Jane said. “We take trips to see our children and we travel in the car and visit our children. I’m comfortable and feel great.”
Programs like Momentum, which shape exercises and other wellness initiatives to meet individual needs, can improve quality of life for an aging population, Schafer said.
Given the impact on Jane’s life, the Reaths said they’d highly recommend a customized program.
“One-hundred percent, time and time again,” Jane said.