A road map to living well with diabetes | Guest column

Nurse and diabetes educator Joann Mayo prepares to test the blood-glucose level of a participant in a state-funded free diabetes class

By Kristen Rezabek

Peace Island Medical Center was awarded a grant by the Washington Office of the Attorney General to provide three series of diabetes classes over the course of this next year.

“On the Road to Living Well with Diabetes” is a free program open to all persons with pre-diabetes and diabetes and their spouse/caregiver.

The next session starts Tuesday, Jan. 21, from noon to 2 p.m., at the Skagit Community College classroom.

Taught by a dietitian/diabetes educator and nurse/diabetes educator, topics include; meal planning, medication management, glucose management, physical activity, and disease prevention. Special guest speakers include a pharmacist, ophthalmologist, and a physical therapist to address topics and answer questions and concerns.

The first session of six classes wrapped up before the holidays and participants received free blood pressure, blood cholesterol and A1C screening. Results show participants in the class had a significant improvement in their A1C, a measure of their blood glucose levels. Individuals also demonstrated improvement in their blood pressure and knowledge of how to better manage diabetes and improve their health.

All participants rated the class as very helpful in achieving control of their diabetes and preventing diabetes associated complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, eye damage and stroke.

There are 26 million people in the U.S. with diabetes and, of those, seven million are undiagnosed. In addition, another 79 million people have pre-diabetes, a condition that increases their risk of developing diabetes.

Diabetes affects 27 percent of people age 65 and older. Diabetes increases the risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and nerve damage, but these complications may be prevented or minimized by making lifestyle changes in diet, physical activity and medications.

On the Road to Living Well with Diabetes aims to help people get the information they need and feel empowered to make positive changes, and to improve their health.

The class series will repeat again on May 6.

For more information about the class or to register, call 360-317-6250 or email jmayo2@peacehealth.org.

— Editor’s note: Kristen Rezabek is a professional dietitian and diabetes educator, and executive director of Nutrition First, a San Juan Island-based nonprofit.