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Linking generations. Enhancing lives.

November is National Diabetes Month, a time when communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes. This year’s focus is on the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke as people without diabetes. This is because over time, high blood glucose from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart. The good news is that the steps you take to manage your diabetes can also help lower your chances of having heart disease or a stroke:

  • Stop smoking or using other tobacco products.
  • Manage your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
  • Develop or maintain healthy lifestyle habits - be more physically active and learn ways to manage stress.
  • Take medicines as prescribed by your doctor.

Nearly half of American adults have diabetes or prediabetes, and every 21 seconds, another individual in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes. In addition to that 84 million adults in the United States are at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. These facts are absolutely astounding!

The American Diabetes Association website states most do not comprehend the life-long challenge of this illness or the unrelenting work required to manage such a complex condition. Unless managed effectively diabetes can lead to severe medical complications including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, amputation and blindness.

It is important to be aware of the two types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed in children and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with the disease have this form of the disease. In Type 1 the body does not produce insulin. With the insulin therapy even young children can learn to manage this condition and live long, healthy lives.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In Type 2 the body does not use the insulin produced properly. This is called insulin resistance. The body tries to make extra insulin to compensate for the ineffectiveness but eventually the body can’t keep up and ultimately the blood glucose levels rise above normal. This is called hyperglycemia.

So, you may be asking, I wonder if I am at risk and if so is there anything I can do to lower that risk? Well there is good news! People who are high risk can reduce their risk by more than half by making healthy life changes. These changes include: eating healthier, getting more physical activity and losing weight.

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This is the time of year when most of us think about making healthy changes to our lifestyle habits. As with anything baby steps are usually the best plan and seem to be easier to maintain over the long term. For example, choose meals with less fat and eat more veggies.

More than likely the upcoming holiday season we will be bombarded by delightful treats of all shapes and sizes. Let’s be honest: it really wouldn’t hurt any of us to cut back on sweets. Keep in mind many recipes can be made more health conscious by something as simple as substituting sugar with a different sweetener selection such as Equal or Stevia as examples. It’s very possible that no one will even notice the difference.

Next on the list, GET UP AND GET MOVING! During the cold weather months, motivation for exercise seems a little harder to come by, so don't do it alone.

Find an exercise partner so you can support and push each other. If you don’t have someone readily available to partner up with join a group. That will also be an opportunity to make new friends and acquaintances.

The LifeSpan Center has many different exercise options available for you to try, so pick a favorite or participate in them all!

Guests who need transportation may call Dial-A-Ride at 217-639-5196 or 1-800-500-5505 at least 2 days prior to the event.

The LifeSpan Center is located at 11021 E. County Road 800N, Charleston. The numbers for the programs are as follows: Coles County Telecare -- 217-639-5166; Family Care Giver Resource Center -- 217-639-5168. See you at the LifeSpan Center.

Come join us each weekday at noon for “Lunch at LifeSpan.” Peace Meals are served Monday through Friday at a suggested donation of $3.50. To register, reserve a lunch or learn more, contact Peace Meal at 217-348-1800.

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