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Healthy Living with Diabetes

Healthy Living with Diabetes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, within the last decade, the number of Americans living with diabetes climbed to an astonishing 30 million people. What’s worse, 1 in 4 don’t even know they have it. The onset of diabetes can occur at any age, to people of every shape, size and race.

A diagnosis of diabetes means that blood sugar levels are above normal and the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. Sugar builds up in the blood and over time, can cause serious health problems, including stroke, kidney failure, vision loss, and could even result in amputation of a limb.

According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.25 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder that can only be treated with insulin replacement. An estimated 40,000 people will be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes this year. The remaining reported cases of diabetes have Type 2, a non-insulin dependent diabetes that can be managed with diet and exercise.

Living with diabetes can place an enormous emotional, physical and financial burden on the entire family. Managing the disease can be complicated and frustrating. Support from friends, family and healthcare professionals is vital.

The Healthy Living with Diabetes workshop at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS) utilizes the Diabetes Self-Management Program. The 6-week group program is for people with diabetes, or those who may be prediabetic or have questions about the disease. Developed by Stanford University, the program helps individuals manage their symptoms, including tiredness, pain, and emotional issues, which often plague individuals with diabetes. The interactive workshop meets for 2.5 hours a week. Topics include:

  • Ways to deal with diabetes symptoms, fatigue, pain, hyper/hypoglycemia, stress, and emotional problems such as depression, anger, fear, and frustration
  • Exercise for maintaining and improving strength and endurance
  • Healthy eating
  • Taking medications as prescribed
  • Working more effectively with health care providers

Program participants make weekly action plans, share experiences, and help each other solve problems they may encounter in creating and carrying out their self-management program. One of the most frequent topics of positive feedback that workshop participants share is the ability to relate to others dealing with similar issues and the support that they receive from these peers.

As an integrated health provider, JFCS is on the front lines, seeing the positive effect of proactive care for detecting and managing diabetes. Primary care providers work with therapists and health navigators to make sure equal attention is given to medical, nutritional and behavioral symptoms.

Believing that education is the key to breaking barriers to care, the Jewish Family & Children’s Service Michael R. Zent and Glendale Healthcare Centers provide therapy and integrated care services for coordinating diabetes treatment. For more information, visit https://www.jfcsaz.org/programs-services/medical-primary-care/.

Melissa Baker is Director of Integrated Health at the Glendale Healthcare Center of Jewish Family & Children’s Service.