Lowndes County senior citizens learn about diabetes education

Published 8:47 pm Saturday, November 5, 2022

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The Lowndes County Extension Office offers a six-session Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP) for area residents.

Currently, some 12 senior citizens who visit the Hayneville Senior Center are participating in DEEP every Tuesday morning.

Each class lasts about an hour, said Tana Shealey, Lowndes County’s Extension Office Coordinator. Sometimes they run a little longer depending on the particular topic and number of attendees.

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“The purpose [of DEEP] is to have community members attend the classes,” Shealey said. “And what they learn, we hope they will take back into their neighborhoods, churches, schools —anywhere that they congregate and talk with people about diabetes.”

DEEP participants learn how to live with diabetes and gain skills they can use themselves and share with family or friends. Shealey said the program dispels misconceptions about diabetes by teaching the truth about the disease.

“One of the big myths is that people who are diabetic cannot eat foods that have sweeteners,” Shealey explained. “And that’s not true. We encourage them to see their doctors and find out how much carbohydrates they need, depending upon their blood work and physical health.

“It’s a great program because it’s rather informal. And they’re able to ask questions and respond to questions.”

Instructors talk with participants about the importance of exercise and relieving stress. One class also focused on how stress impacts blood sugar and presented tips for ways to have fun and relax.

According to Shealey, diabetes is one of the chronic ailments many Lowndes County residents face. The Extension Office hosts DEEP classes around the county and just graduated one group in Mosses.

Shealey said her office will come to churches and community groups, anywhere people are interested in learning more about the topic.

Participants at the Hayneville Senior Center range in age from 68 to 88. Instruction is tailored to the needs of each group.

“Some [attendees] are being cared for by family members,” Shealey noted. “We help them understand things that the doctors tell them to do and encourage them to hold what we call deep conversations with their doctors about their self-care.”

The Lowndes Extension Office resembles a roving classroom, designed to take research developed at Auburn University and Alabama A&M University into the community.

Classes are available on a variety of topics, including gardening, canning, financial information, and food safety. Most are available to the public at no cost.

To learn more, visit aces.edu/counties/Lowndes.