National Diabetes Month great time to focus on prevention

Care Connection for Aging Services is participating in the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) to help prevent or postpone a disease that affects one in 10 Americans.

As part of National Diabetes Month in November, the agency is recruiting individuals to enroll in a 12-month program developed by the Centers for Disease Control that has been proven to prevent diabetes.

Two Care Connection lifestyles coaches will lead the NDPP Prevent T2 program with weekly meetings for the first 16 weeks and monthly meetings after that.

 One in three Americans, about 88 million people, have been diagnosed with prediabetes, a serious health condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC.

“Those are the people we are trying to reach,” said Teresa Romanowicz, Support Services Director for Care Connection. “The good news is that by changing your habits and lifestyle, you can prevent or postpone the development of Type 2 diabetes. If you have ever thought ‘If only I had a coach to support and walk me through this,’ this is for you.”

The NDPP program will be offered free to participants and will include information, coaching and encouragement for older adults on topics including losing weight; eating better; exercising (even when the weather is bad); planning, setting and meeting goals; and coping with stress.

Participants also will be able to meet online privately with a lifestyle coach.

The program is open to people whose blood sugar levels indicate they have prediabetes. To discuss details of the program and find out if you are a fit, call Lifestyle Program Manager Stacey Gilkeson at 1-800-748-7826. The agency needs at least a dozen participants to offer the class, so Gilkeson is creating a list of interested individuals who match the criteria. The goal is to begin the program in January.

The agency also offers regular sessions of the Diabetes Self-Management Program free of charge, via Zoom. For more information on this program, visit www.goaging.org or call Gilkeson.

To commemorate Diabetes Month, the National Institutes of Health offer these tips to help manage prediabetes and prevent diabetes.

Take small steps. Making changes to your daily habits can be hard, but you don’t have to change everything at once. It is OK to start small. Remember that setbacks are normal, and do not mean you have failed — the key is to get back on track as soon as you can.

Move more. Limit time spent sitting, and try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity, five days a week. Start slowly by breaking it up throughout the day.

Choose healthier foods and drinks most of the time. Pick foods that are high in fiber and low in fat and sugar. Build a plate that includes a balance of vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates. Drink water instead of sweetened drinks.

Lose weight, track it, and keep it off. You may be able to prevent or delay diabetes by losing 5 percent to 7 percent of your starting weight.

Seek support. It is possible to reverse prediabetes. Making a plan, tracking your progress, and getting support from your health care professional and loved ones can help you make the necessary lifestyle changes.

Stay up to date on vaccinations. The COVID-19 (booster shot, if eligible) and flu vaccines are especially important for people who may be more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 or the flu, such as people with diabetes.

Care Connection for Aging Services is a nonprofit area agency on aging serving adults 60 and older in 21 locations in 13 West Central Missouri counties: Bates, Benton, Carroll, Cedar, Chariton, Henry, Hickory, Johnson, Lafayette, Pettis, Saline, St. Clair and Vernon. Its mission is to provide opportunities to create positive aging experiences. For more information: www.goaging.org or 1-800-748-7826.

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