[Susan Hanna]

 If you have pre-diabetes, have been newly diagnosed with diabetes or have had diabetes for a long time, Rideau Valley Diabetes Services (RVDS) provides education and support to help you manage your condition.

“You don’t have to manage on your own,” says RVDS Director Onalee Randell. “There are many resources available to you and your family members, including your family doctor and our diabetes educators.”

Headquartered in Smiths Falls, RVDS provides services in Leeds, Lanark and Grenville. Its outreach program includes individual and group sessions in Almonte, offered at the Ottawa Valley Family Health Team clinic at 95 Spring Street. Sessions are also offered in Carleton Place, Perth and Lanark as well as other areas in Leeds and Grenville.

You can contact RVDS directly for support, or be referred by your family physician.

“If you have pre-diabetes, we encourage you to attend one of our group sessions,” says Ms. Randell. “We answer your questions and provide information about healthy eating, staying active, what tests you should have on a regular basis and what you can do to reduce your risk of developing diabetes.”

If you have been newly diagnosed with diabetes, RVDS will ask permission to contact your doctor to obtain details of your condition. “You may be at a stage where you can manage your diabetes through diet and lifestyle changes, or you may have been asked to start medication,” says Ms. Randell. “We collaborate with your doctor to ensure we have the information we need to provide the best care.”

Those with diabetes are encouraged to attend three group sessions, which provide information on managing the disease, including how to monitor blood sugar, how your medications, such as diabetes pills or insulin, work and the benefits of healthy eating and staying active.

“We want to work with individuals to minimize their risk of developing complications” says Ms. Randell. “Complications from unmanaged diabetes include amputation, heart and kidney problems and blindness.”

RVDS encourages those who have had diabetes for a long time to attend sessions to hear the latest diabetes updates.  RVDS provides follow-up services to clients. “Some people like to talk to an educator monthly; for others it’s less often,” explains Ms. Randell. “We encourage clients to touch base with an educator at least every six to 12 months.”

The incidence of diabetes is on the rise, and, last year, RVDS served more than 2,100 clients.

“We are also seeing more people in their 40s developing diabetes,” says Ms. Randell. “If you have diabetes, your children have a higher risk of developing diabetes as adults. Healthy lifestyle changes that you and your family make decrease your risk of complications, and your children’s risk of developing diabetes.”

For more information on RVDS services, call 613-284-2558 or visit www.rideauchs.ca.

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