Senior citizens managing diabetes and vision loss have a new place online to find a host of free materials to help them learn how to stay active, eat sensibly and independently manage medications.
The materials are available on the newly expanded AFB Senior Site (www.afb.org/seniorsite/diabetes), which was unveiled Thursday (Nov. 12) at an event at Ruth Eckerd Hall in recognition of American Diabetes Month, observed in November. The event was hosted by the Verizon Foundation, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the Lighthouse of Pinellas. Enrique Oliu, sports commentator for the Tampa Bay Rays, and state Rep. Bill Heller participated.
"With over 3 million Americans living with vision loss and diabetes and another 15 million at risk, there is a real need for good information on safely managing diabetes while visually impaired," said Dan Mann, president and CEO of the Lighthouse of Pinellas, which offers diabetic self-management classes at its facility in Largo to diabetics who are also blind or visually impaired.
At the event, the AFB and the Verizon Foundation introduced a comprehensive Diabetes Guide (www.afb.org/seniorsite/diabetes) - available in English and Spanish - that addresses health issues facing people with diabetes and vision loss, such as diet, exercise and monitoring blood glucose levels. The guide is part of the AFB Senior Site (www.afb.org/seniorsite), an award-winning Web site from the AFB and the Verizon Foundation that helps older Americans with low vision lead more independent, active lives. The Verizon Foundation previously provided a $1.5 million grant to expand the Web site.
"This Web site is a tremendous tool to empower senior citizens and help them gain the knowledge needed to make informed decisions and live independently," said Michelle Robinson, Verizon Southeast region president. "We are proud to partner with the American Foundation for the Blind and the Lighthouse of Pinellas County on this valuable project."
Successful management of diabetes requires great discipline, specific knowledge, skills and tools for self-care. With vision loss -- a common side effect of advanced diabetes -- there's yet another level of complication and risk added to a patient's treatment regimen. Almost all diabetes equipment is still designed with the assumption that the user will be able to see enough detail to use it properly. Regular and small print are standard for diabetes-related information, equipment instructions and prescription labels.
"It's important that people with diabetes and vision loss have access to the right tools, and learn how to independently monitor their blood sugar and blood pressure levels and manage their medications," said Carl R. Augusto, the AFB's president and CEO. "We created the Diabetes Guide to give people with vision loss all the tools and resources they need to live full, healthy lives."
Tips from the guide include:
- Eat smart - Healthy eating is where all diabetes care begins. If you have vision loss, you can learn adaptive techniques for grocery shopping and preparing meals, and giving special attention to measuring portion sizes accurately.
- Stay active - Regular physical activity is essential to diabetes management. Many physical activities can be adapted and enjoyed by people with vision loss, including walking, dancing, gardening, swimming and tandem biking. Remember to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
- Monitor your health - When managing diabetes, your good health depends on your ability to both monitor and understand your blood sugar, as well as your blood pressure, weight and body temperature. If you have vision loss, consider investing in large print and talking blood glucose meters, blood pressure monitors, thermometers and weight scales.
- Medication safety - Medication management - whether it involves taking aspirin for a headache, or measuring insulin - is one of the earliest obstacles that people with vision loss face. With time and care, most people are able to address these issues by adopting a few new skills and the right tools.
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its free educational Web site, Thinkfinity.org, and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence. In 2008, the Verizon Foundation awarded more than $68 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad. It also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in an additional $26 million in combined contributions to nonprofits. Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation's largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered more than 3 million hours of community service since 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. One of AFB's top priorities is promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. AFB is also proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the over forty years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB. For more information visit us online at www.afb.org.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 89 million customers nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers innovative, seamless business solutions to customers around the world. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 230,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of more than $97 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.