Diabetes Education Classes: A Life Lesson - HealthCheck

Article Date: Jan 11, 2010

While type-two diabetes never used to be diagnosed before age 40, doctors are now seeing it in patients in their 20s and 30s. Keeping diabetes in check often means a total lifestyle change, but patients don't have to go it alone. In January's Health Check report, a look at a valuable resource.

Four times a week, this is where you'll find Barb Kirchhoff. Water aerobics and a focus on healthy eating helped Barb drop 20 pounds, important changes after recently being diagnosed with type-two diabetes.

"My mom had diabetes where she took insulin and died at an early age and so that's what went through my head to begin with, so I thought that's what would happen to me and at first I was very scared."

Barb's doctor recommended diabetes education classes at Bergan Mercy.

"Do you know what your blood sugar numbers were when you went to the doctor's office?” asks Alegent Health diabetes educator Susanne Kersey, who helps teach four two-and-a-half hour sessions, everything from the right way to test blood sugars to what to eat, how much of it to eat and when.

It can be a lot for the newly diagnosed and information overload may be one reason why Kersey says half of diabetes patients do not have their condition under control.

That's serious business because out of control blood sugars can lead to complications. Heart attacks are the leading killer for people with diabetes. They're also at risk for stroke, amputations, circulation problems, blindness and kidney failure.

"If they get good information about diabetes and how to manage it they can prevent those complications,” says Kersey. “That doesn't have to be the normal progression of diabetes like it used to.”

Barb is proof the classes gave her the information she needed to adapt to a new way of life. "It helped to reassure me that I can live healthy and I don't have to be scared. I can live a very normal and happy life."

Alegent's diabetes education classes are covered by Medicare and by most insurance plans. New sessions are just starting.

Rebroadcast with permission of WOWT.

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