Seniors Health Care -Diabetes Workshop

A jovial group of 15 local residents jammed into a room at the Tumbler Ridge Health Center on November 22nd to learn a little more about diabetes. Some of the attendees were diabetics and some were interested family members. Equally important, there were non-diabetics wanting to learn the preventative and delaying measures to this chronic disease.

The seminar was led by Judy April, a Dawson Creek dietitian and Loretta Howard, the home and community nurse for Tumbler Ridge. April comes to town once a month for scheduled appointments with those needing her expertise. Last month she led a seminar on good health eating for seniors.

Howard was on hand to answer any questions relating to the physical elements of diabetes and its effects, while April?s focus was diet and exercise related, with an array of food models and visual aids to better clarify how necessary diet is to this disease.

Some of the vast many topics they were able to cover in the two hour lecture were ?What is Diabetes??, the three types of diabetes; type 1 ? pancreas produces no insulin at all, type 2 ? some insulin may still be produced and gestational ? temporary diabetes that manifests during pregnancy.

There was varying degrees of confusion and subsequent questions regarding diet that seemed to be overwhelming to some of the people in the group. Howard and April did their best to answer questions and explain functionality of medications and changing diet as well as equaling out the meals so that there would be less binging at the later meal of the day, which in effect, caused blood sugars to fluctuate in an undesirable way. April explained, ?If you eat the same amount of food at (each of) your three meals and perhaps healthy snacks ? but don?t overdo the snacks – then you will not be starving at the next meal and eat more than you should.?

With a few exceptions, the talk was mostly in regards to type 2 diabetes, which is prevalent in seniors. April brought statistics that showed that in diagnosis of diabetes, 10% were type 1, 90% were type 2 and 3.5 % were gestational. Gestational diabetes can be an indicator of future development of diabetes.

Adding a bit of fun to the workshop, April requested four volunteers to assist her in showing how glucose and insulin work in the body. The four reluctant workers stood in place as April gave them sheets of paper with images of food (fuel) and instructed them to place it in a container that served as body cells (fire). The assembly line worked smoothly until April took a few people out and introduced different obstacles and showed how hard insulin has to work to maintain good blood sugar levels. Her use of visual aids was helpful in getting the point across.

While some of the attendees voiced that they more or less knew the information that was covered, it was that they have trouble sticking to the routine. Aprils? advice to eat equal meals was a good start, as most people tend to skip breakfast, eat a small lunch if any and then eat a large meal at supper. It is known by most people that the reason you don?t grocery shop when you?re hungry is because you become impulsive and desire quick foods, high in fat and sugar. The same applies here, with the theory that if you weren?t terrifically hungry at each mealtime, then your options would likely be healthier and less impulsive as well.

A seniors workshop on respiratory illnesses frequently experienced by the elderly will be held on January 11th and led by respiratory therapist Irene Stoyles of Chetwynd.