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Knowledge is power in self-managed health care

It’s National Diabetes Month, and it’s worth mentioning for two reasons. One, because 37.7 million Americans are living with diabetes. However, 20% of them don’t know it yet. Second, 32 million American adults have prediabetes, and 80% of them don’t know it yet.

Statistics can be befuddling, so focus on this takeaway: Diabetes directly affects many people in our country. Guaranteed, it affects someone you know, and probably someone you love. But, do they know it?

Because prediabetes has no symptoms, and diabetes can go on for years without significant symptoms, it creates a bit of a blind spot.

The purpose of National Diabetes Month is to raise awareness. Now you know the statistics, but awareness that is personally relevant requires action. For a disease that doesn’t exactly send out a red flag as it develops, taking action becomes even more important.

It’s time for a check-in, have you completed one of these actionable health steps in the past year?

  • Assess your genetic risk because diabetes runs in families. Take the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pre-diabetes quiz: https://bit.ly/2Fg6mZ8.
  • Have your lab work done. A fasting blood glucose or a hemoglobin A1c will keep you informed.

It takes courage to face the possibility of discovering you could have diabetes. Feelings of anger, sadness and guilt are common responses to such news. Understandably, these aren’t exactly feelings people jump at the chance to experience. But, a chance you may jump at is the one to protect your vision, feet or kidneys because, when healthy, they enhance your quality of life.

You know what they say about knowledge – knowledge is power. Or, in this case, knowledge is the empowerment needed to initiate self-care activities. And yes, you can still be healthy when living with diabetes.

Despite the fear chronic disease can elicit, it can also be an opportunity. The fate of your genetic makeup was determined years ago, but lifestyle choices can be very persuasive in the outcome of diabetes. You deserve the chance to make educated decisions about your health and well-being.

La Plata County Extension offers two programs specifically aimed at helping you gain knowledge and improve skills to self-manage your health.

Dining with Diabetes is a program for adults that teaches the basics of diabetes, paired with culinary instruction so you can prepare diabetes-friendly meals.

Up next

The next Healthy Living Program begins in January. Help your whole family start the year with health in mind. Register here: http://bitly.ws/wt7U.

The Healthy Living Program is new to La Plata County and is designed for families with teens. The program emphasizes healthy food preparation, fun physical activity, family support and learning how to harness the power of mindfulness to deal with stress. Through this combination, families create a home environment that supports the health and well-being of each family member.

To register, or learn more about these and other health-promoting programs offered through La Plata County Extension, email nicole.clark@colostate.edu. You can also find us on FaceBook or on our family and consumer science tab at www.laplataextension.org.

Nicole Clark is the family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach her at nicole.clark@colostate.edu or 382-6461.