VNA prepares diabetes prevention program | CraigDailyPress.com

VNA prepares diabetes prevention program

Michael Neary

Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association offers a program for preventing diabetes running from Jan. 28 through May. The lifestyle change program includes weight management and healthier diet.

— Amy Knights, public health nurse manager for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, said that awareness of diabetes has improved in recent years. But the condition, she said, still occurs frequently.

"It's still very prevalent," said Knights, a certified diabetes educator and a registered nurse.

In an effort to reach people at risk of developing diabetes, the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association is offering a Diabetes Prevention Program beginning later this month. The program is for people with pre-diabetes — or at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes — according to a statement from the Northwest Colorado VNA. The program is scheduled to last one year, with sessions occurring weekly for six months, then monthly for six months.

Weekly sessions will run from 1 to 2 p.m. Thursdays, from Jan. 28 through May 12 at the Craig VNA building at 745 Russell St. The program is free, and people seeking more information or who want to sign up can call 970-871-7696. In order for people to participate, they are expected to sign up by Jan. 27.

The program is based on a national diabetes prevention program recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, officials from the Northwest Colorado VNA said. According to research on the CDC website, "people with pre-diabetes who take part in a structured lifestyle change program can cut their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent."

Farrah R. Smilanich, a registered nurse and community health and outreach manager for the Northwest Colorado VNA, said in an email that the program covers lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and physical activity, along with problem solving and coping skills — topics she noted are outlined on the CDC website.

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Jennifer Mattern, community health educator for the Northwest Colorado VNA, will facilitate the class, drawing upon the CDC curriculum with support from Knights and from Arin Diagneau, a registered dietician and a certified diabetes educator. The Northwest Colorado VNA has offered the program for the past several years.

Knights, stopping to talk in the midst of a busy day at the VNA, discussed some of the ways she works with people at risk of diabetes, touching on the sorts of topics the prevention program will include. She stressed the prevention program is recommended for people who have been told they have pre-diabetes.

Some of the signs pointing to pre-diabetes may be difficult to notice, but Knights said people may carry some warning signs, such as glucose levels that are "out of the normal range at times."

As a diabetes educator, Knights said she helps people with diet and lifestyle changes, including exercise. She noted the challenges of changing behavior — especially in diet and exercise routines — and stressed the importance of starting with small and achievable goals.

"The person has to be ready for change," she said. "And a lot of the time, it's small, simple changes to start out with, so you don't overwhelm them."

She said giving up soda, or eating one serving instead of two might make for a good beginning, but she acknowledged those steps but still be difficult.

"It can be pretty hard," she said. "And sometimes, instead of no soda, we'll say, 'Just have one a day.'"

Knights said doing exercise — and sticking with it — can be particularly challenging, especially if a person is in any sort of pain. She said finding the right sort of exercise, such as swimming or biking, can be an important step.

Awareness of diabetes has increased in recent years, Knights said, noting there's less of a stigma attached to the condition than there might have been in the past. She said people now know having diabetes is a challenge, but they may say to themselves, "I can work toward fixing it."

Additional information about preventing diabetes can be found in this week's TMH Living Well column.