Education and foot care program helping seniors live healthier with diabetes

Senior woman with glucometer checking blood sugar level at homeFor low income seniors with diabetes, foot care is often the last thing on their minds. This is a challenge, because poor foot care in those living with diabetes can lead to a number of complications, including foot ulcers, nerve damage or even amputation. This is one reason Dixon Hall is pleased to partner with Sun Life to provide a type 2 diabetes program, including ongoing foot care, to seniors over the next year.

The program also includes a ten-session workshop series on diabetes and cooking, which will run twice a year, and a diabetes-friendly meal provided via the Meals on Wheels program. The overall goal is to help low-income seniors with diabetes live healthier lives.

For Christine Chow, Director of Senior Services, the program meets a lot of needs. Her team hosts programs for seniors that run for approximately five hours a day, and which include a lunch. Knowing which clients have diabetes helps them to provide appropriate meals, as well as manage a situation if there is a medical issue. She and her team had noticed a lot of embarrasment about diabetes among their clients, as well as misinformation and misunderstanding. The grant from Sun Life gives Dixon Hall the opportunity to help change this.

“Our seniors don’t necessarily know a lot about diabetes and to a certain degree there’s a lot of stigma within their peers,” says Chow. “When we provide the food, when we provide the workshops, we are able to identify the things where we can help them.”

elderly woman with chiropody and body care at home

Through the workshops, they hope to teach seniors more about how to live a healthy life with diabetes and how to cook meals that are both diabetes and budget-friendly. They also want to encourage more open communication, so clients feel better about disclosing their diabetes and more likely to ask questions or let the staff know if they are managing a health issue. Making this information easy to understand and access will improve the quality of life for those in the program.

This is also the case with the foot care appointments. For low-income seniors with diabetes, knowing they need to check their feet is one thing. Having the funds to do it is another. Chow notes that often a senior would have to choose between getting their feet examined or paying for something else they need. Foot care is not typically going to be at the top of their list on a tight budget. By funding this program, Sun Life allows these seniors to get the care they require without sacrificing other important things in their life.

The program, which is open to any senior with diabetes or prediabetes who is currently a client of one of Dixon Hall’s programs, aims to use education, hands-on learning and improved foot care to help seniors better manage their diabetes. “It can be a huge lifestyle change,” says Chow. “We’re hoping that by offering these programs we help them through it and let them know it’s not so bad, you just have to manage things differently and make some changes.”

The diabetes program for seniors, generously funded by Sun Life, will run throughout 2020. If you are a client of Dixon Hall who is over the age of 55 and lives with diabetes or prediabetes, contact Caryn Yuz at 416-863-0499 ext. 3231 to learn more.