November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, this is the time of year where we ‘ring the alarm’ on the diabetes epidemic plaguing our country. 34.2 million Americans are living with diabetes spanning all ages, backgrounds, religions, and races. However, this disease does not discriminate; our fellow Americans that identify as racial minorities are disproportionately affected.
In fighting any issue, it is important to define the problem at hand. Diabetes is a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated glucose levels in the blood and urine.
There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. By implementing insulin therapy and other treatments, this condition can be manageable. Type 2 diabetes is the more common of the two in the U.S. In this form, the body doesn’t use insulin properly. Healthy eating, exercise, and appropriate management of the condition can potentially be used to prevent Type 2 if diagnosed. In some cases, insulin therapy or other medication is used for treatment.
To find out if you or a loved one have diabetes, consult a physician for testing. A variety of samples and tests will be conducted to determine blood sugar levels, including an A1C, a simple blood test. The ADA recommends all tests for diabetes be performed in a lab or doctor’s office for the most accurate results.
2020 has proven to be a challenging year for many, but especially hard on those living with health concerns. According to Harvard Health Publishing, those in the diabetes community are often at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Education, support, and financial resources are essential ways to fight and prevent this disease.
We have rounded up a list of resources for those living with diabetes and anyone interested in giving back to this community.
While the American Diabetes Association may have a national reach, regional support services are available. The Greater NYC/ NJ branch is committed to raising awareness and support for citizens living with diabetes. For those living with, caring for, or wanting to lend support to diabetes, volunteer work is always needed. The website for this branch connects prospective volunteers to local opportunities.
The mission statement of Camp Nejeda Foundation shares its purpose is to “enhance the lives of people with Type 1 diabetes and their families through education, empowerment, camaraderie, supportive programs, and fun.” Dating back to 1958, this camp teaches children diabetes management skills while offering a safe environment to learn and grow. While typical summer activities turned virtual this year, Camp Nejeda has still maintained the pillars of the foundation. For more information on Came Nejeda and ways to support this worthy cause, check out their site.
Education is the best way to manage and combat living with diabetes. The Jersey City Medical Center is offering free educational sessions monthly for those interested. The program consists of self-management tools and training. For more information on the program, as well as contact information, follow this link here.
Diabetes is a manageable condition, but only when equitable resources are available to all involved. Those living with diabetes and their caretakers and loved ones require education in a variety of areas. The New Jersey Academy of Physicians has rounded up such a list, which includes education for racial minorities, multi-lingual patients, patients experiencing difficult decision making, those navigating the use of insulin, and more. Click here to be connected with this support list.
Support programs, groups, and management tools are essential. However, financial resources are truly what many those living with diabetes require. The Diabetes Foundation’s Medication Assistance program was created to offer a free, short-term insulin supply to children and adults in financial need. For more information on the foundation, to apply for the program, or to learn ways to donate, follow this link.
In many cases, Type 2 diabetes is preventable with diet and exercise. The YMCA of Greater Monmouth County helps members take control of their health through their Diabetes Prevention Program. A quiz to see who needs the program can be found here, along with the measurable goals the program strives to achieve. Those looking for ways to support and donate to the program can locate the ‘Give Today’ tab at the top of their site.