YMCA of Central Ohio

Diabetes prevention program open to Medicare recipients

(by Tara Figurski, staff writer - February 27, 2013)

More than 1,000 people have participated in diabetes prevention courses since the YMCA of Central Ohio launched its program in 2010. YMCA officials hope to see an increase in demand now that the classes can be paid through Medicare.

More than 79 million Americans are at risk for diabetes, said Caroline Rankin, director of the YMCA of Central Ohio’s diabetes prevention program.

“Diabetes is a leading cause of heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and nerve damage,” she said.

The National Center for Disease Control estimates one of every two Americans will have diabetes by 2030. This can be deterred through prevention, Rankin said.

“The projections are astronomical,” Rankin said. “We need to find a way to help people live healthier lifestyles.”

The YMCA has offered prevention programs since 2010, but Medicare recipients were not eligible to participate, according to Rankin.

When the program started it was offered to individuals insured through United Healthcare or through self-pay, said Barbara Camfield, Hilltop YMCA.

The bulk of the participants came from United Healthcare and were identified as having a potential for diabetes through a health scan, Camfield said.

Rankin said through the Affordable Care Act the YMCA of Central Ohio was one of 17 YMCA programs across the country selected to deliver the program to individuals receiving Medicare Part A and Part B.

“The program is for those at risk for diabetes,” Camfield said.

In addition to receiving Medicare, participants must also qualify by being diagnosed as “pre-diabetic,” which means having an elevated glucose level without diabetes and a body mass index of 25 or above, Rankin said.

The program focuses on lifestyle changes, Rankin said. Weight loss of 7 percent and 150 minutes of physical activity per week can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes by 58 percent.

Pre-diabetes threatens more than 50 percent of adults over age 65, Rankin said.

“To change a habit you have to have a new habit,” Rankin said. “We have seen great success. This is about helping them figure out what are habits and changes you can make.”

Camfield said the diabetes prevention program is offered once a week for 16 weeks. Each class focuses on one particular aspect of prevention, like healthy eating.

A participant in the program herself, Camfield said she learned a lot of new things.

“I always thought that I was a healthy eater … not so much,” she said. “It is the old adage that knowledge is power. With the Internet there is so much information.”

Participants talk about their health challenges, she said. Camfield’s challenge to overcome was ice cream. Success did not mean giving up ice cream, but learning what else could satisfy her cravings.

Her husband overcame cheese. He discovered all kinds of lower-fat cheeses.

The class also provides moral support. Participants work together to accomplish their 150 minutes of exercise.

“It is easier to exercise with a buddy,” Camfield said.

Exercise is a key component of the program.

“My numbers didn’t start coming down until I started to exercise,” Camfield said. “You have to figure out what works for you.”

The YMCA offers 20 diabetes prevention classes at various central Ohio branches, including the Hilltop YMCA, 2879 Valleyview Drive.

The next diabetes prevention class at the Hilltop branch starts 10 a.m. on March 6. To register, contact Rankin at 224-1137.

The YMCA will host also host a special informational event at 10 a.m. on March 13 at the Grove City branch, 3600 Discovery Drive.

For information, visit www.ymcacolumbus.org/diabetes.

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