For the last six weeks, the seniors at Butler Court Senior Center have been immersed in learning. They have been part of educational classes on diabetes management, which have been provided through Community Health Interventions.
Tuesday, they held the last of the six courses, taking time to discuss what management skills they have learned and found useful to utilize in their everyday lives.
While most of the participants were living with diabetes, some who attended the sessions are either caregivers or just interested in learning more about the disease, in the event they were stricken with it at some point in their lives.
Carolyn Smith, who is one such person, said while she doesn’t suffer from diabetes now, she wanted to get as much information as possible to better equip herself in the future.
“I have been taking notes,” Smith shared. “I’m going to do everything I can to avoid being hit with this in the future.”
Smith was just one of a few such lucky participants who said they were taking away the “toolbox” instructor Denise Odlham-Vega shared — a toolbox filled with vital information on preventing and managing diabetes.
During Tuesday’s session, Odlham-Vega asked participants to share the information they learned and what they would be taking away from the six-week long course. Participants shared they have learned things such as the importance of: eating and taking medications at the same time each day, drinking plenty of water, eating more frequently, but smaller meals, following the doctor’s instructions, reading labels at the grocery store, exercising and goal setting.
Odlham-Vega said goal setting was a very important part of the program. So much, in fact, each session was opened with participants sharing what goal they had set for the previous week and their success, and failures, in achieving that goal. During this time, those participating shared such goals as exercising more, eating healthier and loosing weight. While all goals weren’t reached, Odlham-Vega stressed the importance of setting the goals and working harder in the future to obtain them.
“Sometimes life happens and we aren’t able to reach the goals we set,” Odlham-Vega stressed. “But, it’s helping you manage things by setting goals and working to complete them.”
Many of the participants have been suffering from diabetes for many years, and while they knew many of the management skills taught during the classes, Marie Peterson said the classes were a good refresher course.
“Some of the stuff we have forgotten,” Peterson said. “While we knew this information at one time or another, this (the classes) has reminded us and helped us recognize the symptoms easier.”
Peterson said she has been eating better since beginning the classes and learned how to control her eating. Peterson said she has also utilized the management skill of label checking, looking at each label while in the grocery store.
One of the last topics discussed during the course was foot care. For Thomas Edwards, this was the class he needed.
“I had been asking the doctor about problems I was having with numbness and tingling in my legs and feet,” Edwards noted. “The doctor didn’t really tell me anything that would help.”
Tuesday’s session provided Edwards with the tools he needed to make sure his feet are properly taken care of. Diabetic patients are more prone to foot problems because diabetes affects nerves in the foot area, putting diabetic patients at a greater risk for problems.
Often times, Odlham-Vega stressed, diabetics become sick and are unable to monitor and adjust their sugar level accurately. When this happens, participants were taught many tips to use to ensure they don’t become sicker because they are unable to administer their medicines as needed. Once such tip was to check blood-sugar levels more frequently.
Since 1996, Annie Williamson has been suffering with diabetes. At one time, she said, it was difficult for her to recognize the symptoms of high and low blood-sugar levels, but now, she says she has learned what signs to look for.
“I know I have to eat right and take my medicine two times a day,” Williamson stated. “If I don’t do these things, I know what will happen and I know what symptoms to look for.”
Williamson had two tips to share with participants. Like Peterson, she too has learned to look at labels in the grocery store. She has also learned to have a handful of blueberries available at all times.
“It’s about healthy eating and smaller portions,” Williamson added.
Odlham-Vega said she was very pleased with how well all participants did in setting goals and working to accomplish these goals.
“They have learned things they can carry with them,” Odlham-Vega stressed. “Having diabetes means you have to manage on a day to day basis.”