Diabetes Education Team Provides Information and Support
Programs and support for those with diabetes
Diabetes is common, it is chronic, and it is serious. Experts estimate that
approximately 14 million Americans have diabetes (though about half of them don't
know it), and each year more than 600,000 people in this country are diagnosed
with this disease.
One of the most difficult problems new diabetic patients face is a mountain
of information. Nurse educator, Cindy Parlett, R.N.,
says it can feel overwhelming: "It's hard for people to take it all in and
prioritize what they need to learn first. Medical knowledge and medical
treatment change; they've changed a lot just since I started nursing 20 years
ago. People change, too, as the disease progresses."
To help people with diabetes learn about this chronic illness and how to
manage it, Cayuga
Center for Healthy Living
offers a three-session program. "It's open to anyone who is diabetic and
wants to learn more about how to maintain a full and healthy life," says Parlett. "We encourage family involvement and suggest
that participants bring a support person with them."
Parlett, who is a registered nurse and diabetes
educator, is one of three health-care specialists who lead the series of
classes. Her focus is on ensuring that participants understand the basics of
the disease, including how to control and monitor their blood sugar. She also
covers the role of exercise and diet in controlling diabetes, personal habits that prevent acute problems, and ways to prevent or delay
serious complications from diabetes, such as kidney disease, vascular problems,
and diabetic retinopathy.
Parlett is joined by Deb Siegert,
registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, and registered pharmacist
Ann-Marie Esposito, who has training in diabetes management. Siegert concentrates her efforts on diet and realistic menu
planning to help participants maintain their health. Esposito explains how
insulin and medicine for diabetes work together to lower blood sugar, and how to
avoid drug interactions and other adverse effects.
"Our goals for participants in the program are to help them become
self-sufficient and to get them actively involved in their own care," says
Parlett. "We want people to understand that they
can't simply rely on their doctor to keep them well. This is a lifelong
disease, and it can't be cured by a pill. But people can exercise control over
their diabetes, and not resign themselves to the idea that they will end up
with kidney disease or other complications because they are diabetic. With
proper management, people can live long, normal lives."
Before classes start, each participant will be met with individually to get
a history. This information is shared with the other instructors so that
program information can be tailored to each individual class member. "We
set up realistic, measurable goals with each person to establish what they want
to get out of the classes. Three months later, we contact everyone to see how
they are doing in meeting their goals."
"It's easy for diabetics to become depressed and feel like they're
alone," Parlett observes, "but they aren't
alone. We are always here for people, and we're happy to talk with them over
the phone. We want participants to be pro-active, stay focused and on top of
changes, and do whatever it takes to control their blood sugar. And we're here
If you are diabetic and have a doctor's referral, the cost of this class is
covered by most health insurance programs. People without
insurance who meet financial criteria, may be eligible for scholarship funds.
For more information about the diabetes education program or for individual
counseling, call 252-3590 at the Cayuga
Center for Healthy