If you’re one of the 5.7 million Canadians living with diabetes, you understand the daily challenges of managing it.

If you don't, there's value in being screened, especially when you're 40 or older. Some people are at a higher risk, whether it's something in their personal history or a strong family history, who might want to start screening for diabetes earlier.

diabetes awareness month

November is Diabetes Awareness Month in Canada and the Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network is shining the spotlight on the free resources available year-round to support people living with diabetes.

"If you're an average Albertan over the age of 40 and haven't been screened for Type 2 diabetes, November being diabetes month is a good time to reach out to your family doctor and ask whether you're due or eligible for that test right now," says Dr. Janet Reynolds, medical director of the Calgary Foothills PCN.

"And if you need extra support, scroll to cfpcn.ca and you will see all of the workshops that might be applicable to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle."

Even if you don't have any symptoms, it's worth being screened.

"Those results might come back very clearly negative. So, you move on, continue trying to have a healthy lifestyle," explains Dr. Janet Reynolds, medical director of the Calgary Foothills PCN.

But sometimes they are absolutely positive, and a person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, or sometimes they are placed somewhere in the middle and are suspected to have diabetes or might be at high risk and require some education.

"That's an opportunity actually to prevent progression to type 2 diabetes. Those are patients we really want to attend our workshops or speak to a healthcare professional to understand what they have control over to prevent their disease from actually progressing"

Dr. Reynolds says their team works collaboratively with each other and family doctors to provide care.

"Our whole purpose is to help our family doctors with integrated team-based care. So in our primary care network, we have a variety of healthcare professionals that can help manage diabetes," she explains.

"You can start with your family doctor, but patients can also self-refer," she says. "So, going to the cfpcn.ca website is where patients can see all the workshops and programs that are available that don't require a referral from a doctor. If you have a family doctor, your physician will be kept in the loop."

The assistance available extends to even mental health counselling and social assistance.

"Some people with diabetes have other conditions that might affect them, like mental health conditions, and so we have access to one-on-one counselling as well as other mental health support."

They have social workers to assist those who need help wherever possible in accessing things that cost money, like blood sugar home monitoring, and medication. 

Here's a full list of assistance available with links to send you in the right direction.

  • Clinical Pharmacists can assist with diabetes medications, routine lab testing, foot exams, annual vaccines, ongoing surveillance, and helping to create a follow-up plan.
  • Health Management Nurses support lifestyle, wellness management, sharing diabetes education, and monitoring for complications.
  • Registered Dietitians provide counselling for nutrition management to help give a better understanding of how different foods affect blood sugar levels.
  • Social Workers can offer support with health benefits information for prescription coverage and in creating a plan to help improve lifestyle.
  • Workshops are available both online and in-person to support diabetes education. There are several Ask a Dietitian workshops, including one that focuses on diabetes or pre-diabetes.
  • Mental Health support is available both online and in person. Access one-on-one counselling through the One-Step-at-a-Time program or sign-up for a variety of workshops, including Anxiety 101Anxiety to Calm, and Happiness Basics.

If you don't live in their catchment area, you can go here to see where to go.

Diabetes is a disease in which your body either can't produce insulin or can't properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas.

There are three major types of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common diagnosis, followed by type 1 diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and is usually temporary. In addition, prediabetes is another important diagnosis that indicates an elevated risk of developing diabetes.

Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations, and adult blindness. In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled.

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