YMCA helps get a jump on diabetes

COVINGTON -- The YMCA of Metro Atlanta is partnering with the MedicareDiabetes Screening Project to help older adults Get a Jump on Diabetes.

That's the name of a new campaign aimed at diabetes prevention. Classes will be offered at the Covington Family YMCA if there is enough interest. At least eight participants are required to hold a class. If that happens, classes will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1 and run for 16 weeks.

"We have lifestyle coaches that have been assigned and are ready to teach, but we just have to get the folks in," said Kristin McEwen, group vice president for Metro Atlanta YMCA.

Here's how it works: Seniors age 65 and older can ask their physicians about getting a free screening for diabetes through the MedicareDiabetes Screening Project. If they are diagnosed as having prediabetes, they can apply for a scholarship to attend a lifestyle course at the YMCA. The first 200 seniors in the metro area who qualify will be awarded scholarships.

Participants will learn about healthier eating, simple ways to increase physical activity and other changes that can lead to a healthier lifestyle.

"The results are magnificent. The difference it makes in folks, in their lives, is tremendous," McEwen said. "There are two goals of the class: To exercise a minimum of 150 minutes per week and to reduce body fat by 7 percent The classes are set up so individuals can learn from each other and strategize on how to decrease the food they eat or if they have a job with little time to stop and eat, how to make healthy choices. With little teeny baby steps you can start seeing significant changes."

The classes are not limited to seniors but are open to everyone age 18 and older who is prediabetic. The Metro Atlanta YMCA is providing additional scholarships, and those with United Healthcare insurance may be able to get the cost fully funded. Those who do not qualify for any kind of financial assistance can self-pay at a cost of $299 for non-YMCA members and $142 for YMCA members.

After the 16-weeks session, monthly follow-ups will be provided so members can discuss their struggles and successes.

For more information, call Linda Vaughn at 404-527-7690, email preventdiabetes@ymcaatlanta.org or visit www.GetAJumpOnDiabetes.org.

According to an information packet from the MedicareDiabetes Screening Project, more than 30,000 adults age 65 and older living in the Atlanta area have undiagnosed diabetes and more than 80,000 have prediabetes. Research has shown that older adults can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by as much as 71 percent by participating in a lifestyle modification program that helps patients lose weight and increase physical activity.