Every day in the United States, more than 5,200 people are diagnosed with diabetes, 230 patients have a diabetes-related amputation, 133 people with diabetes progress to end-stage renal disease and 55 people with diabetes become blind, according to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of 2011, 8.3 percent of the U.S. population was diagnosed with diabetes and approximately 35 percent had prediabetes.
The news doesn’t get any better. By the year 2050, it is expected that 100 million people in the U.S. will have diabetes, but unfortunately many of the cases will be undiagnosed.
Each year at the beginning of November, National Diabetes Education Week is celebrated. To provide ongoing diabetes education on a local level, Penobscot Community Health Care is collaborating with St. Joseph Healthcare for a Diabetes Expo on Friday, Nov. 1 at Jeff’s Catering in the East/West Industrial Park, 15 Littlefield Way, in Brewer. The program will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with speakers on topics such as foot care, dental hygiene, and weight-loss secrets. A special guest speaker and diabetes champion, Ruth Charne, will speak right after lunch. Several diabetes and healthcare-related vendors will be available to answer questions about their products and services. A locally renowned chef will show how to create healthy and tasty meals for people with diabetes.
An additional goal of National Diabetes Education Week is to raise awareness of the role diabetes educators play in helping patients learn to self-manage the disease and, in doing so, reduce healthcare costs. Diabetes educators are healthcare professionals who counsel patients on how to incorporate physical activity, healthy eating and lifestyle changes into their lives to improve their blood glucose control. They also help patients to understand how their medications work, teach them how to monitor their blood glucose, inject insulin, use insulin pumps, and avoid the risk of diabetes complications, and enable them to problem-solve and adjust emotionally to diabetes.
Many people may not be aware that diabetes education is a paid benefit through Medicare and many private insurers. Education teaches people with diabetes how to manage and cope with their condition and prevent serious complications that may arise from the disease. Diabetes education is demonstrably successful in reducing costs to the healthcare system and improving the health of patients. Many studies have shown that diabetes education can help prevent or delay many of the serious complications that may arise when diabetes is uncontrolled and patients aren’t educated about the disease.
If you would like to be more in the know about diabetes care, join us on Nov. 1. The registration fee is $5 (collected the day of the expo) and includes morning coffee, lunch and all day attendance. Visit PCHC.com/DiabetesExpo to pre-register and for further details or contact me at 941-2850.
If you are interested in finding a diabetes educator, the American Association of Diabetes Educators provides this information as well as resources for educators and patients. Visit diabeteseducator.org/find.
Georgia Clark-Albert is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator at Penobscot Community Health Care in Bangor. She provides nutrition consultant services through Mainely Nutrition in Athens. Read her columns and post questions at bangordailynews.com or email her at GeorgiaMaineMSRDCDE@gmail.com.