NEPEAN-BLUE Mountains Medicare Local, which services the Hawkesbury, is helping diabetes sufferers live a healthier lifestyle through a new program and support group.
After 11 years of diabetes it was the group health program, known as HELP, that saw Penrith resident Wendy Gaye get her condition under control and now she’s urging others to attend.
Ms Gaye, a mother of three, discovered she had diabetes more than 10 years ago and, like many diabetes sufferers, was unaware she had the condition.
It was a visit to her GP because she felt ‘‘unwell’’ that led to the diagnosis.
Ms Gaye attended the Nepean-Blue Mountains Medicare Local (NBMML), Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Program, HELP, for people living with type two diabetes.
Delivered by accredited dietitians, participants learn about lifestyle changes, weight-loss goals, food labels, healthy selections when eating out and exercise options.
The program consists of one individual assessment followed by eight group sessions held over a three-month period.
‘‘I thought I was managing my diabetes well but there is always something new to learn,’’ Ms Gaye said.
‘‘The things I learned about diabetes when I was first diagnosed are totally different to what we know now, thanks to research.
‘‘It’s important for diabetics to have the latest information so they can treat their condition more effectively and benefit from the increased choices of food and exercise,’’ Ms Gaye said.
‘‘HELP showed me that I’m not the only one living with diabetes, and hearing other people’s stories really helped.
‘‘I’ve now got a new support network of other diabetics and health professionals where I can go to ask questions.’’
NBMML board chairman, Dr Shiva Prakash, said the prevalence of diabetes in the region was ‘‘concerning’’.
‘‘Regular visits to the GP will help to make the lifestyle changes to prevent diabetes or take control of the condition in the early stages,’’ he said.
People who have been diagnosed with diabetes will need to provide a referral from their GP to be eligible for bulk-billing. Other people are welcome to attend the program on a session-by-session basis without a referral at a cost of $15 a session.
The next program in Penrith starts on July 16.
■ Details: NBMML on 47088100 or visit www.nbmml.com.au/HELP. Places are limited to 12 people per group.