Seniors have power to control diabetes

If you are one of the more than 10 million adults age 60 and older with diabetes in the United States or know an older adult with diabetes, the power to control diabetes is in your hands.

A newly updated campaign — sponsored by the National Diabetes Education Pro-gram, a joint federal program of the Na-tional Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — aims to educate older adults on the importance of controlling their diabetes.

The “Power to Control Diabetes Is in Your Hands” campaign also provides im-portant information about the Medicare benefits that help pay for diabetes equipment, supplies and prescriptions.

Keeping your diabetes under control means following a healthy eating plan, getting regular physical activity and taking prescribed medication to keep blood glucose — blood sugar — close to normal levels. The campaign includes a consumer brochure that outlines tips for managing diabetes.

For example, use the “ABCs” to control your diabetes, feel better and stay healthy.

• A is for the A1C test. This simple lab test reflects your average blood glucose level over the past three months. This is the best way to know how well your blood glucose is controlled overall. The A1C goal for most people with diabetes is below 7.

• B is for blood pressure. High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard. It can cause a heart attack, stroke or kidney disease. Most people with diabetes need to keep their blood pressure below 130/80.

• C is for cholesterol. Bad cholesterol, or LDL, can build up and clog your blood vessels. It can cause a heart attack or stroke. Most people with diabetes need to keep their LDL cholesterol below 100.

The “Power to Control” campaign materials include a Community Outreach Kit, a comprehensive resource designed to assist community organizations in helping their older adults with diabetes learn how to manage the disease. This kit includes diabetes information; resource lists; ideas to promote diabetes awareness, education and control; and marketing materials to promote the campaign.

As described in the brochure, Medicare helps pay for the following benefits for people with diabetes:

• Self-testing equipment and supplies, including blood glucose meters, test strips and lancets.

• Diabetes self-management training with a diabetes educator so you can learn how to control your diabetes.

• Nutrition therapy with a registered dietitian or nutrition professional so you can learn which foods are best to eat and how much food is right for you.

• Additional services such as foot care and glaucoma screening.

To learn more about diabetes, visit the NDEP Web site at www.ndep.nih.gov or call (800) 438-5383. For information about Medicare benefits, call (800) MEDICARE.