The word diabetes brings up a lot of questions: How can I prevent it? How is it best regulated? What exactly does my diabetes medication do? The lack of answers to these questions is contributing to the fact that diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death in the state of Kentucky. In Lawrence County, a partnership group is trying to remedy this problem through their program called Taking Ownership of Your Diabetes.
The Lawrence County Extension Service is a co-partner of a new diabetes grant, Together on Diabetes, with the Lawrence County Health Department. Funding total $40,000 per year for four years has been awarded for the project. Stephanie Derifield, Lawrence County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences, says that the grant will focus on building community support for diabetes care by providing tools for bridging together clinic and community partnerships. As a member of the local Health Advisory Team (HAT), Stephanie introduced UK Extension's featured program, Taking Ownership of Your Diabetes, in January 2011. A 10-week series was offered and resulted in a diabetes support group. This concept of forming partnerships to achieve common goals and outcomes is the purpose of the Health Advisory Team and had a major impact upon receiving the recent diabetes grant funds.
The 10-week program had much success. Seventy-five percent of the participants reported they now know more about the medication they use after attending Taking Ownership of Your Diabetes. Over half of the participants are now utilizing the carbohydrate counting method they learned in the program to help regulate their diabetes. Those who have changed their diets have stated losing up to 35 pounds. One of the goals of the program was to establish a diabetes support group, and seventy-five percent of participants stated they would like to attend one if offered. Because of the interest and new funding, the first support group meeting was held in January 2012.