Free diabetes prevention program available for seniors

Seniors found to be at risk for getting Type 2 diabetes will be able to enroll in the yearlong YMCA diabetes prevention program at no charge through Medicare.

Doris Ledon (right) has her blood taken by Angela Osbeck, a lifestyle coach for the diabetes prevention program at the Emma B. Howe YMCA, Coon Rapids, during a diabetes screening event June 20. The screening was to check the blood-glucose level and determine if seniors – ages 65 and over and with Medicare Part A & B coverage – would qualify to enroll in the diabetes prevention program free of charge. Ledon’s blood-glucose was well under the level that would make her a prediabetic.

Doris Ledon (right) has her blood taken by Angela Osbeck, a lifestyle coach for the diabetes prevention program at the Emma B. Howe YMCA, Coon Rapids, during a diabetes screening event June 20. The screening was to check the blood-glucose level and determine if seniors – ages 65 and over and with Medicare Part A & B coverage – would qualify to enroll in the diabetes prevention program free of charge. Ledon’s blood-glucose was well under the level that would make her a prediabetic.

Y-USA has received a $12 million grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center to offer its diabetes prevention program at no cost to qualifying seniors through Medicare Part A & B.

Besides having Medicare Part A & B, seniors must be overweight and at risk for developing diabetes or overweight and have been diagnosed by a doctor as someone with prediabetes to be eligible for the program.

Minneapolis-St. Paul was one of 17 communities across the country selected by Y-USA to offer the diabetes prevention program to Medicare Part A & B beneficiaries.

In tandem with the Diabetes Prevention Control Alliance, a partnership between UnitedHealth Group, Y-USA and retail pharmacies, the YMCA sponsored “Seniors Tell Diabetes Not Me Week” June 17-22.

Diabetes prevention awareness events, which included screenings, took place at YMCAs in the Twin Cities area last week, including June 20 at the Emma B. Howe YMCA in Coon Rapids.

According to Lynne High, United Health Group, the YMCA’s diabetes prevention program, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, will be delivered to 10,000 Medicare enrollees through the grant.

“The project aims to demonstrate how an evidence-based prevention program delivered by a community organization can lower incidence of Type 2 diabetes and reduce the cost burden of the disease on the nation’s health system,” High stated in a press release.

“The project is estimated to save the Medicare program $4.2 million over three years and $53 million over six years,” High said.

According to Angela Osbeck, a lifestyle coach at the Emma B. Howe YMCA, the yearlong diabetes prevention program includes 16 weekly sessions, then eight monthly maintenance meetings.

The most recent diabetes prevention program has just concluded the 16 weekly meetings at the Emma B. Howe YMCA with the monthly maintenance sessions switching to the Andover YMCA.

The next diabetes prevention program at the Emma B. Howe YMCA is scheduled to start Aug. 13 and run every Tuesday evening from 6-7 p.m. for 16 weeks.

Sara Vine, senior coordinator of the diabetes prevention program for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, which has 21 branches, said the program has been in place for three years. It is open to anyone 18 years of age or older, and there have been people in their 80s attending sessions, she said.

The diabetes screening at the Emma B. Howe YMCA was to determine if seniors were prediabetic and thus at risk for Type 2 diabetes. The screening included both a simple blood test and an A1c screening.

The blood was taken from seniors to determine their blood-glucose level, according to Vine. A reading of 140 or more would indicate they were prediabetic, while a follow-up A1c test to measure the blood-glucose level over a three-month period would confirm that, Vine said.

The A1c is considered more accurate than the one-time blood test, she said. A senior in the normal range with the blood test might still be prediabetic and the A1c test would determine that, Vine said.

“The main risk factors for people getting diabetes are being overweight, a lack of physical activity and having poor nutrition,” Vine said.

Dealing with those issues is the foundation of the YMCA’s diabetes prevention program, which takes place in a classroom setting, she said.

According to Vine, the program helps prediabetics adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating healthier, increasing physical activity and losing a modest amount of weight to reduce their chances of developing the disease.

The goals of the program are for the participant to reduce body weight by 7 percent and increase physical activity to 150 minutes a week, Vine said.

“It is a form of behavior modification,” she said.

Normally the yearlong program costs $249 for YMCA members and $320 for nonmembers, she said. Qualifying seniors do not have to be YMCA members.

People who have already been diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes do not qualify for the YMCA’s diabetes prevention program.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, about 16 percent of Minnesota adults 65 years and older have diabetes, which is twice the prevalence rate among adults 45 to 65 years old.

Nationally, nearly 11 million people over the age of 65 have diabetes, which is more than 25 percent in this age group, and half of all Americans over the age of 65 have prediabetes, the Center for Disease Control states.

“Diabetes is taking a staggering toll on elderly Americans, who are particularly vulnerable to its effects,” said Dr. Deneen Vojta, senior vice president of UnitedHealth Group and chief clinic officer of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance.

“The good new is that Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable, and it is the small lifestyle decisions we make every day that have the biggest impact.”

The Y was founded in London, England, in 1844 by George Williams and a small group of his friends to help young people find a positive foundation for their lives. The YMCA came to America in Boston, Mass., in 1851 and quickly spread throughout the United States.

The YMCA in Minnesota traces its history back to 1856.

Today the YMCA serves men, women, boys and girls of all faiths, races, ages, abilities and incomes, according to the website of the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities.

“We are for youth development, for healthy living and for social responsibility,” the website states.

 

Peter Bodley is at
peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

  • doris suvanto

    did not know that this was going on. i am a member of the YMCA

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