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Resources available for adult-onset diabetes

Joan Hatem-Roy, Chief Executive Officer

Q: Several months ago, my husband was diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes. Last week, he had blood tests and a follow-up appointment with his physician. His blood sugar numbers remain elevated. My husband told his doctor he was taking his medication correctly and watching what he was eating. I am being careful about preparing meals, but I think he is cheating when he meets his friends for lunch. How do I talk to him about this without upsetting him? What resources are available?

A: This is a common question. Recently diagnosed diabetics need to understand what is happening to their bodies. Diabetes is a chronic disease caused either by a lack of the hormone insulin or the body’s inability to use it. The hormone is vital in the process of converting sugar and starches into glucose, which is the body’s principal fuel. Diabetes is a chronic condition, which is likely hard for your husband to accept.

Care plans for people with diabetes typically feature guidelines for exercise, medication (if warranted) and nutrition. In the past, patients received pre-printed diet plans, but the current approach to meal planning is often more individual and flexible. Be mindful this certainly doesn’t mean someone can give in to their cravings for sweets without making other food adjustments. The challenge for many people with diabetes is balancing what they eat, when they eat and how much they eat. Portion control is key, and so is patience.

A referral to a registered dietician would likely be in your husband’s best interest. You don’t have to go it alone. By working with a dietician, he could learn to select appropriate foods, eat on time throughout the day and count carbohydrates. The dietician could work with him in designing a meal plan to meet his personal needs. It would be beneficial for you to attend some of the meetings if your husband was agreeable.

Our agency offers nutrition counseling with a registered dietician who can provide advice and set nutrition goals. Common conditions addressed in these sessions can include weight loss, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, allergies and GI disorders. Counseling is also available for persons with Medicare who are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, our Diabetes Self-Management Program has been successful in educating and supporting newly diagnosed diabetics in making wise changes in their lives. The program is now being offered virtually through our Healthy Living Center of Excellence at www.healthyliving4me.org.

Are you struggling to care for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our experienced staff is available to help. Visit us online at www.ESMV.org for more information. You can call us at 1-800-892-0890 or email ageinfo@esmv.org. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.