FACTS FOR FAMILIES: Get a handle on diabetes | Health, Medicine and Fitness

CHERI BURCHAM Family Life Educator

I have been facilitating the diabetes program “Take Charge of Your Diabetes” for many years now, but currently it has hit closer to home.

While I had several family members that were diagnosed with it, and the participants of my classes shared their stories about living with diabetes, I luckily did not have it or had anyone close enough that I had to assist with it.

Then last fall, after several months of not feeling well and unexplained weight loss, my husband decided to finally get his glucose checked. O boy! His A1C was off the charts and he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Luckily, with medication and some lifestyle adjustments, he has been able to get it under control and is doing quite well. But the key there is “lifestyle adjustments.” Fortunately, diabetes can be a very manageable illness, but there is no “cure” and is a chronic condition that requires not just medical care, but also self-management to keep it from progressing or slow progression.

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According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2019 there were 37.3 million Americans, or 11.3% of the population, that had diabetes. Ninety-six million Americans age 18 and older had prediabetes – which is high sugar levels but not quite high enough to diagnose as diabetic. And having diabetes can increase the risk for other major health issues. In fact, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2019.

If you or someone you care for has diabetes or is prediabetic, why not learn how to more effectively “take charge” and live an active and fulfilling life?

The “Take Charge of Your Diabetes” program is designed to teach those with diabetes tools and techniques to help them become better health managers. I will be co-facilitating a new series of classes with Penny Arthur of the Moultrie County Counseling Center and Sheila Greuel of Covenant Transitions.

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Classes will be offered Friday mornings from July 1 to Aug. 5 from 9–11:30 am These classes will be held at Mid-Illinois Senior Services at 114 E. Jefferson in Sullivan. Prospective participants will need to register by Monday, June 27, by calling the University of Illinois Extension office at 217-543-3755 or online at https://go.illinois.edu/takechargeofdiabetes

The six weekly sessions are highly interactive. Subjects covered include healthy eating, counting carbs, stress management, exercise and physical activity, monitoring blood sugar, medication management, working effectively with medical providers and much more.

Due to funding from the Administration for Community Living, there will be no cost for the workshop, but registration is required. The American Diabetes Association identifies this program as meeting the Diabetes Support Initiative criteria for support programming.

I really hope that we can get several to attend, because participants really learn a lot from each other.

Cheri Burcham is the Family Life Educator at the U of I Extension.

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