– Special to WEKY AM 1340 –
With nearly one-in-four Kentuckians age 65 and older living with diabetes, some organizations are spreading a message of “Get Fit, Don’t Sit” during Older Americans Month in May.
The American Diabetes Association and Passport Health Plan are providing seniors in Kentucky with information about how they can live the healthiest lives possible.
The health educator with Passport Health Plan, Lisa Bellafato, says exercise is a key diabetes-prevention tool, and any additional movement that can be incorporated into daily life is beneficial.
“For example, if you are with a group of people and you’re having a meeting, if you get up and do a walking meeting; or just that you are standing part of the time,” she says. “Or, if you are going to the grocery store, can you park further away and walk a little bit more.”
She says regular physical activity can help people lose weight and lower blood sugar, which can help prevent diabetes or delay its onset. According to state data, Kentucky has the 12th highest diabetes mortality rate in the country.
This month, the ADA and Passport are sending free diabetes education kits to community, recreation and senior centers.
BJ Levis, the recreation administrator for Metro Parks and Recreation in Louisville lost her mother to diabetes complications, and says she’s passionate about building awareness of the disease. She believes the kits are a big help.
“So it’s some great handouts, some puzzles for people to do and a checklist to see if you might be at risk for diabetes and then also some pedometers,” Levis says. “With the pedometers, we’re starting some walking programs for our seniors. So we’re real excited about all of that.”
Bellafato notes that knowledge is power, and another key piece of diabetes prevention is being aware of certain health numbers.
“Sometimes it’s scary to kind of address some things with their health, but if you can know, ‘Am I at risk for diabetes,’ or ‘What are my blood pressure numbers?'” Bellafato adds. “That information helps you to have a good starting point to know what changes you can make.”
Age, race, gender and family history are other risk factors for diabetes.
Information on the free kits can be found by calling 1-888-DIABETES.