March 22 was the American Diabetes Association’s Alert day. The Alert’s goal is to raise public awareness that diabetes is serious.  I will look at this alert in two ways; first, if you do not have diabetes, do you know what your risk for diabetes is? Secondly, if you have diabetes, do you know what local resources are available and why you should take advantage of them?

March 22 was the American Diabetes Association’s Alert day. The Alert’s goal is to raise public awareness that diabetes is serious.  I will look at this alert in two ways; first, if you do not have diabetes, do you know what your risk for diabetes is? Secondly, if you have diabetes, do you know what local resources are available and why you should take advantage of them?


An estimated 25.8 million Americans have diabetes. Of this number, 7 million don’t know they have the condition. In addition, 79 million have pre-diabetes, up from 54 million one year ago. Diabetes increases the risk for some significant health problems, which include heart disease, amputations, stroke, kidney damage, blindness, gum disease, nerve damage and possibly dementia. According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2007 the U.S. spent $179 billion on costs related to diabetes.


First, are you at risk for diabetes? Take the test in this issue and find out. Be alert to your risk factors and discuss them with your physician.


Secondly, if you are diabetic, I challenge you to meet this condition head on and take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about what you can do. A study reported in the April 2002 issue of Diabetes Care reported on an HMO that tracked 3,118 individuals with diabetes who had diabetes education and compared them to 3,681 individuals, also with diabetes, who did not have diabetes education. The medical costs each month were $394.62 for those who had taken advantage of education as compared to $502.48 for those who had not. Imagine the savings today. A literature review in 2008 reinforced this finding. From the perspective of an individual who had recently attended diabetes education classes, “At least with diabetes, I am learning what to do to be in charge of this disease and not let it get me.”


Livingston County has the resources close to home which will put you or your family member in charge. The Noyes Hospital Diabetes Education program, available both in Dansville and Geneseo, is recognized by the American Diabetes Association and staffed with a registered nurse, certified diabetes educator and a registered dietitian. There are individual appointments to begin and thanks to a Community Service Block Grant, five hours of free diabetes education classes which offer participants incentives for attending.  The Livingston County Department of Health has a monthly support group for diabetics.


Be alert to your risk factors if you do not have diabetes and take advantage of the resources available, if you do have diabetes.


Nancy Johnsen is a certified diabetes educator and community health education coordinator at Noyes Memorial Hospital, 585-335-4355.