Do you want to help senior patients avoid type 2 diabetes, but aren’t able to ensure they make the appropriate lifestyle changes?
All it takes is a simple blood test to refer them to the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, which includes a free year-long membership to the YMCA.
More than 50 percent of people over 65 years old are at risk to develop type 2 diabetes, but many don’t even know they’re at risk. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program was created to help people who are at high risk of developing diabetes make the necessary adjustments to their diet and exercise routine through personalized coaching.
The best part? All you, as a physician, have to do is order a blood test and then recommend that the patient enrolls in the program. In order to qualify for the program at no cost, a participant must have healthcare coverage through Medicare, be overweight (BMI ≥ 25), and have a hemoglobin A1c value between 5.7 and 6.4 percent or a fasting plasma glucose (mg/dl) between 100 and 125.
Dallas is one of 17 communities chosen to participate in the initial launch of this project, which is funded by a grant from CMS’ Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. The American Medical Association is working with the YMCA in six cities to pilot programs that will improve access to diabetes prevention coaching, but Dallas is not on that short list.
Mona Roach, MD, is a family physician in Minnesota who was frustrated with the limited program options for patients at risk for diabetes. Although she referred patients to see a dietician or to enroll in a paid program such as Weight Watchers, the cost of those options could be prohibitive.
“You try to give as much encouragement as you can, but, ultimately, it’s up to the person,” she says. “I could talk to somebody once in the office about it, but then they leave and do what they want.”
Last year, Dr. Roach encouraged two of her patients to participate in the year-long YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program. One of her patients lost 25 pounds through the lifestyle modification program and saw her blood glucose drop nine points.
“The YMCA program really combines the diet and exercise and education elements,” Dr. Roach says. “It’s definitely the best tool we have.”
Linda Funk was one of the first patients in Dallas to enroll.
“Even though I have had weight issues most of my life, my yearly test results were pretty much in the normal category,” she says. “But last fall, my doctor told me that my glucose level was too high and that I was at high risk for developing diabetes. Type 2 diabetes was suddenly a very real — and frightening — possibility.”
Through enrollment in the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program, she learned the changes she needed to make in order to avoid diabetes.
“At each meeting, I received specific suggestions on how to make changes to my life that could delay or even prevent the development of type 2 diabetes,” she says. “The program is not a magic potion — I still had to make the decision to implement those changes — but now, armed with the knowledge and support that I have gained from the weekly meetings, I have been able to turn my outlook around.”
For more information about the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, including promotional materials you can distribute to your patients, call DCMS at 972-948-3622 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.