Diabetes is a chronic illness affecting more than 400,000 Kentuckians. Continuous medical care and patient self-management education are keys to preventing acute complications and reducing the risk of long-term complications. Poorly controlled diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disorders, dental disease, amputations and other problems.
In Family and Consumer Sciences Extension, work is underway to provide education and support to those affected by diabetes. Much of this work centers on implementation of the “Taking Ownership of Your Diabetes” curriculum developed by Ingrid Adams, Assistant Extension Professor, Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition. The curriculum is based on the National Diabetes Education Publication “4 Steps to Control Your Diabetes. For Life.” It uses the stages of change model to bring behavior change. Family and Consumer Sciences Extension agents and individuals with type-2 diabetes provided input into the curriculum development and ensured relevance. A multi-disciplinary team including registered dietitians, an endocrinologist, and certified diabetes educators reviewed the curriculum for accuracy.
The curriculum includes strategies such as goal setting and problem solving to empower individuals to manage their diabetes and to improve their quality of life. It addresses the preparation of healthy meals, the benefits of physical activity and the importance of a health care team. Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agents partner with health care professionals to provide diabetes care education and empower participants by sharing success stories from others who have diabetes.
During the past 18 months, 3,085 individuals have participated in the “Taking Ownership of Your Diabetes” program. Participant evaluations indicate 50% were seen by their health professional as a means of managing their diabetes; 39% had their A1C checked; and 33% took part in physical activity for 30 or more minutes on five or more days of the week. In addition, 39% checked their blood glucose 1 or more times a day; 32% utilized a meal plan; and 25% set and accomplished goals for themselves.
In Daviess County, Christy Ramey, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, has teamed up with the Green River District Health Department diabetes educator to offer help to those who struggle with this disease. A diabetes cooking school addressed meal planning and preparation. A diabetes expo featured products and services available in Daviess County, as well as a “panel of experts” who shared their expertise through a question and answer forum. A support group has been formed and the “Taking Control of Your Diabetes” is utilized in monthly meetings. In total, more than 150 people with diabetes have been reached with education and support programs.
In Powell County, diabetes self-management classes have been offered through Family and Consumer Sciences Extension in partnership with the community certified diabetes educator. Additionally, classes focused on cooking and dining out for persons with diabetes. Approximately 32 persons attended one or more of the six classes offered. At the end of each program, survey results indicated 90% of participants had a better understanding about the disease and additional health risks.
Extension agents across the state play an important role in the success of programs such as “Taking Ownership of Your Diabetes”. Family and Consumer Sciences Extension is committed to improving the quality of life for individuals and families. Programs like “Taking Ownership of Your Diabetes” provide a basis to achieve this goal.