Del. Diabetes Coalition raises awareness about risk, resources at Annual Expo
HARRINGTON, Del. – Did you know that more than one in ten Delawareans are living with diabetes?
Educating The Community
Del. Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long says that number could be even larger, because many might not even know they have it. “Think about all of your friends and family who are walking around, that might not realize they have early onset diabetes,” she said during Tuesday’s Annual Diabetes Wellness Expo.
The Delaware Diabetes Coalition (DDC) hosted the expo, taking it as an opportunity to raise awareness about diabetes in the community. “A lot of times people leave it for too long, and then it ends up becoming a major issue,” said Former DDC President Tina Trout. “They need to have education to learn what it is they need to do.”
Lt. Gov. Hall-Long says that education and prevention is especially crucial for the youngest Delawareans. “It’s really, really important that we don’t leave any child always inside. Physical activity and early intervention is critical. There are far too many young children who are [obese] or are overweight, who are developing Type 2 diabetes,” she said.
Risks and Resources
DDC President Nina Pletcher says your risk of developing diabetes can be greatly increased if your family has a history of diabetes diagnoses. “Anyone with a family history should start to be screened at around age 40 to 45. Unfortunately, symptoms for diabetes are very slow in process, like a glacier, almost. They’re very gradual, and over time, they become very cumulative,” she said.
Trout says maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine are preventative steps anyone can take. Plus, educating yourself about diabetes can also be a powerful line of defense, according to Trout. “There’s a lot of information. People are just, sometimes, fearful. They hear about the loss of limbs and vision loss, so they get scared. They can prevent a lot of those things if they begin to take it seriously,” she said. “I have renamed this the ‘Do-It-Yourself Disease’. As long as you know what to do, you can help yourself.”
Pletcher says a diabetes diagnosis can come as a shock for some. However, with proper management, an active and healthy lifestyle is possible. “It’s a scary diagnosis. But, it’s no different than any other diagnosis. It’s treatable, manageable, and you can live a long, healthy life,” said Pletcher.
The DDC also wants Delawareans to know that financial assistance is available for those with the disease. The Delaware Diabetes Emergency Fund is available in all three counties. Delawareans with any type of diabetes are eligible for up to $500 per fiscal year to help pay for test supplies, medication, glasses, and shoes. For more information about the fund, click here.