People with diabetes don't often know where to turn after they are diagnosed with the chronic disease. To help those in the community learn how to deal with this condition, the Prince William Area Agency on Aging, in cooperation with Project Mend-A-House, offers the Diabetes Self-Management Program. The program, developed by the Stanford University Patient Education Research Center, is offered twice a year at the Woodbridge and Manassas senior centers and consists of two-and-a-half-hour classes each week for six weeks. Participants must be 18 years or older.
Sharon Clark, a public health nurse with the Area Agency on Aging, said the classes help people with diabetes learn to live with their condition. "Members of this class will learn all kinds of tools to use in managing their diabetes."
Those tools include healthy eating, physical activity, monitoring, action planning, stress management, decision making, understanding emotions, communications, not smoking, problem solving and working with health professionals.
Jennifer Schock-Bolles, executive director of Project Mend-A-House, said that people who attend the sessions will see a return on the investment of their time. "Not only do we talk about healthy eating and how to increase your physical activity, communication, working with a health care team, but we also teach things like decision making, goal setting, problem solving."
Learning to cope with diabetes using the techniques learned in the classes will help people live better despite the disease, Schock-Bolles said. "The ultimate goal for this workshop is to change lives, and I've seen it happen. When you have a chronic condition or diabetes, you never know from one day to the next what you're going to encounter. It's about helping you live the best life possible."
Joyce Bernick, who attended the classes, said she learned things she didn't know before and that the classes helped with the anxiety she felt about having diabetes. "I was a little nervous. Right now, I feel like I can go on. I can face the world."
Maryanne and Margaret, who both participated in the program, said they learned a lot through the program. "I was very impressed. I've been a diabetic for many years and it's usually a one-shot deal with classes. They tell you what you have, what's causing it, but they really don't tell you how to deal with it," said Maryanne.
"I had searched for something like this to learn more about the problem of diabetes," said Margaret. "I've learned so much. Every class has been an experience different from the one before."
Schock-Bolles said cooperating with the county helps the community. "To be able to offer this in conjunction with the senior center programming, at both locations, I think is a real asset to the community."
For more information call 571-264-8559 or email Wellness@pmahweb.org.