In its earliest stages, diabetes may go unnoticed, overlooked as a normal sign of aging or being out of shape. As the disease progresses, it can lead to some uncomfortable and alarming symptoms, such as fatigue, blurred vision, weight changes, and poor wound healing. However, when diabetes goes uncontrolled for a longer period, it can create serious health issues such as coronary heart disease, stroke, blindness, digestive issues, and kidney and nerve damage.
One of the biggest hurdles to overcoming diabetes is something you might not expect. It has nothing to do with the patient’s body, but rather their knowledge and understanding of the disease. Sometimes, for some patients, there’s just not enough education on the steps they can take to improve their health and change the course of their disease.
This is why Jefferson Health has established diabetes programs, led by nurse practitioner and Certified Diabetes Educator Neva White, DNP, CRNP, CDE, designed to help patients in their fight against the disease. These programs offer hands-on educational resources for patients with diabetes or prediabetes—completely free of charge for people who qualify.
“Eighty-six million Americans have prediabetes and 90 percent of them have no idea they’re in the danger zone,” said Dr. White. “These programs are helping to prevent prediabetes from progressing, and helping diabetics manage and live healthier lives with their disease.”
Stopping Diabetes in Its Tracks
The goal of the Community Diabetes Prevention Program is to help people in danger of developing diabetes by giving them the tools to make a change.
“This program is for anyone who is 18 years or older, overweight with a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25, has an HbA1C of 5.7 – 6.4 percent, or has been diagnosed with prediabetes,” said Dr. White.
Your BMI is a measurement of your weight compared to your height, and your HbA1c is the average level of your blood sugar over the last few months. Your doctor can take these measurements for you during an office visit and through a simple blood test to assess your risk.
If you qualify, the year-long program will give you the tools you need to make lifestyle changes. You’ll learn from other program participants and get help in identifying the triggers in your life that may lead to unhealthy choices that increase your risk for diabetes.
Helping People with Diabetes
If you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes, there’s a program for that, too. It’s called “Learning to Manage and Live with Diabetes.”
This intensive program gives diabetes patients all the education and tools they’ll need to live healthier lives.
“We’ll send patients educational materials that include tips for monitoring blood sugar and what the numbers mean, meal planning, and nutritional label reading,” said Susana Suarez BS, an instructor with the diabetes prevention program. “We’ll even send them a plate beforehand to help measure meals, including measuring cups and cookbooks with healthy recipes.”
The class itself is online and virtual, which adds a level of convenience and accessibility. To register, call 1-800-JEFF-NOW or visit Learning to Manage and Live with Diabetes.