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Class aims to educate about diabetes

Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death among Americans, and the fifth leading cause of death from disease, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Chilton Medical Center is offering free monthly classes to educate people about the widespread disease. The classes are held on the third Thursday of each month at the hospital at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Diabetes Resource Nurse Karen Harrison said the classes have been going well since they began in March. About eight people have attended regularly, and as interest grows, CMC plans to offer the classes more frequently.

“It’s an interactive discussion type class where we do the instructions, but participants do better because they can encourage and share information with each other,” Harrison said.

The class can benefit people on all sides of diabetes — the newly diagnosed, those who fear they may be at risk, those not managing their diabetes well, and the significant others and caregivers of patients.

“We have a lot of family members that do come,” Harrison said.

In many cases, doctors refer new diabetes patients to educational classes. The classes at CMC are intended to save local people the time and expense of traveling to a facility outside of the county.

Also, those who regularly prepare meals for patients can learn how to better meet their needs. Attendees get valuable handouts, such as new recipes and a food diary. The materials are donated by Merck, a medical supply company.

“We can also supply them with meters and testing supplies and tell them how to get them,” Harrison added.

She said people sometimes tend to think their life is over once they are diagnosed with diabetes, but it doesn’t have to be this way. She said the key is becoming educated, learning healthy habits and changing one’s lifestyle.

“When they manage their sugar, their rate of complications will dramatically decrease,” she said.

CMC has partnered with a registered dietician and a pharmacist to answer questions about diabetes. This is available to all who attend the classes. For more information, call 280-3304.