Many with diabetes aren’t aware they have it
June 17, 2019

Q: My husband was recently admitted to the hospital following a dizzy spell and falling. His blood sugar count was very high, and after several tests we found out he had Type 2 diabetes. This diagnosis was a surprise to me and my husband as he didn’t have any obvious symptoms. I am concerned that we don’t know enough about the disease or what we need to do to manage it. Do you have any suggestions about where we can get help?

A: About 25% of individuals with diabetes aren’t even aware they have the chronic condition. It could take years before a diagnosis is made and in some cases the symptoms are not always obvious. So you and your husband are not alone. People seek information from the internet or their local doctor’s office, but often this is simply a primer about the disease itself. I want to suggest instead the Diabetes Self-Management Program, developed by Stanford University and offered by Elder Services through the Healthy Living Center of Excellence established at the agency.

This program is a participant education program for people with diabetes. Family members, caregivers, or friends may also attend. Workshop topics include practical techniques for dealing with symptoms of diabetes and understanding about associated issues such as fatigue, pain, emotional stress or depression. Healthy eating, appropriate use of medication, exercise for maintaining strength and endurance, and working more effectively with health care providers to manage diabetic care needs over the long term are all components of the program.

Participants make weekly action plans, share experiences, and help each other solve the problems they encounter in implementing the self-management program needed to address their symptoms and concerns. The workshop is conducted over six sessions, meeting weekly for two and one half hours a session, and are conducted by trained team leaders. Although this may seem a large commitment of time, it is worth the effort to learn about the disease but also how to better manage the specifics of this chronic condition We have also found people often enjoy the camaraderie established with other participants going through the same experience but also feel empowered as a more effective and educated health care consumer. For more information about this and other evidenced based health program please contact the Healthy Living Center of Excellence at 978-946-1211 or


Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-892-0890.

Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence to or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc., Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services.

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