With Diabetes in Region Above National Average, Association Provides Support, Hope and Help

Not long ago, a man who was newly diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes walked into the El Paso Diabetes Association (EPDA) Offices, along with his wife. He seemed depressed, atrophied, exhausted, and agitated. Goaded by his wife, he registered for the next available diabetes management class.

When the class started a few days later, he sat with a blank stare and seemed disengaged from learning. At a break, the diabetes educator asked the man, “Why are you here?” His response was unenergetic and monotone, “I don’t know. I don’t have anyone to live for and I don’t know what to do.”

Sandra Gonzalez, EPDA Executive Director, states, “This man is not alone in his diagnosis and distress. At least 12% of adults in El Paso and Doña Ana Counties have Type 2 Diabetes. This is in comparison to 10% in other parts of the United States. And, receiving a diagnosis of diabetes is not always easy.”

EPDA has recently partnered with the Paso del Norte Health Foundation (Health Foundation) to increase diabetes education and awareness.

Michael Kelly, Vice President for Programs at the Health Foundation, states, “While preventing diabetes in the first place is ideal, this is not always possible. Fortunately, many people with diabetes can live both a long and healthy life with appropriate medical and self-care.”

The man who walked into the EPDA office not long ago applied much of what he learned in the diabetes management class. He made small changes such as substituting water for soda and walking 30 minutes twice a week. He also kept his medical appointments and took his medication as prescribed.

A few months later, he called the EPDA and joyfully reported that his blood sugar greatly improved. He was feeling better and living well with diabetes.

He concludes, “There are many approaches to managing diabetes including medication and a lifestyle change. In most cases, managing diabetes involves lifestyle change and the EPDA is here to help. I hope everyone in El Paso who is newly diagnosed will attend an accredited diabetes management class.”

Anabel Orquiz, EPDA Programs Coordinator, adds, “A diagnosis of diabetes does not translate into a death sentence. Although being diagnosed with diabetes may seem overwhelming, there are five steps that can help manage the disease and prevent complications.”

Step 1: Follow your doctor’s advice. This includes taking all medications as prescribed and keeping appointments for check-ups. Your primary care doctor may refer you to other helpful health care providers, such as: a diabetes educator, eye-doctor, podiatrist, or dietitian.

Step 2: Complete an accredited diabetes education course. The class covers topics including: using a glucometer, how food affects blood sugar, and exercising with diabetes.

Step 3: Set short term goals based on medical advice. Meeting positive short-term goals can soon turn into a daily habit and eventually, a lifestyle change.

Step 4: Begin an exercise plan. Frequently, diabetes educators recommend exercising 30 minutes, five times a week. But frequency, intensity, and type of exercise can be different for people.

**Step 5: Eat healthy. ** Eating well is different for each person with diabetes. So, seeking assistance from a registered dietician, certified diabetes educator, or other professional is important.

For more information on Diabetes Management Classes at EPDA, call (915) 532-6280.