Diabetes: If you can’t beat it, manage it

Diabetes, a leading cause of death nationally, is the subject of free presentations this month in Tacoma on how to prevent and manage the disease.

The 40-minute sessions are scheduled for Jan. 9 from 12:10 to 12:50 p.m. at the Pierce County Annex, 2401 S. 35th St., and on Jan. 12 from 12:10 to 12:50 at the County-City Building’s seventh-floor conference room.

Pierce County Aging and Disability Resource Center, a program of the county government, is hosting the presentations in collaboration with American Diabetes Association.

According to experts on prevention and treatment of diabetes, more than 29 million Americans have the disease, and 25 percent of them don’t know it. In addition, 86 million people are living with health conditions that increase the risk of becoming diabetic and having other chronic diseases, including kidney failure and adult-onset blindness.

As recently as 2013, diabetes was the seventh-leading cause of death in the United may be underreported, said officials who also noted that about 20 percent of all healthcare spending in the U.S. is for people with diabetes.

“There’s good news and bad news,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, manager of Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources.  “The bad news is that more than a third of all adults have prediabetes.  The good news is that with planned diet, exercise and medications, people can tremendously cut their risk of developing diabetes or live a vibrant life with diabetes.  We know what works.”

Untreated or ignored diabetes has serious medical consequences such as heart disease, stroke, vision problems, blindness, kidney disease and amputations, Van Valkenburg said

People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to survive.  For people with type 2 diabetes, healthy eating, regular physical activity, and medicines to lower blood sugar can help prevent or delay complications.

More information about this month’s presentations is available at 253-798-4600.