Free senior program helps patient overcome prediabetes

Bridging Health and Home program available in Webster, S.D., and Mayville, N.D.

By: Sanford Health News .

Sanford Health
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We all have experienced that feeling in our stomach — the sinking feeling when faced with something unexpected and potentially scary.

Connie Mangan of Mayville, North Dakota, felt it when she discovered she had prediabetes.

“When I was looking for my blood pressure in my medical record, I found a note saying I had prediabetes. I was shocked. No one had mentioned this to me. But I remembered a brochure for the Sanford Health Bridging Health and Home Center, so I went in as a walk-in patient,” Mangan said.

Bridging Health and Home appointment

Processing new information can be stressful, and more so, the everyday lifestyle changes that are required. That is where support from a program like Bridging Health and Home can make the difference. Mangan wanted answers about what her diagnosis meant and what she could do to prevent her prediabetes from turning into diabetes.

“When you arrive, there is a receptionist who registers you and takes your information, just like any other Sanford Health appointment. Then, your nurse takes you back to a conference room to talk,” Mangan said.

“Because we are in a small town, you know everyone, which is much less stressful,” she said. “You feel like you are just talking, but they are checking your blood pressure and offering you options based on your health needs.”

Mangan’s goal was to reduce her blood pressure and A1C (blood sugar) levels so she would not need to start prescription medications.

“When I found out I had prediabetes, I was not expecting it at all. I eat pretty healthy, so I thought I didn’t have to pay attention,” Mangan said. “At my first appointment, they brought in the nutritionist to meet with me, to talk about foods to eat and avoid, and to give me new recipes.”

Free program for ages 55 and older

The Bridging Health and Home program is free for all Sanford Health patients age 55 and older who are managing health and chronic conditions. It’s available in Webster, South Dakota, and Mayville. At every appointment, each patient has access to a team of:

  • Registered nurses
  • Community health workers
  • Pharmacist
  • Support from local health care providers

“The staff at the Bridging Health and Home program are very knowledgeable,” Mangan said. “It is a warm and caring place to go. They were willing to take the time to listen and deal with the issues of aging. Any issue you bring before them, they will research and get the information to you.”

The program aims to bridge managing health at home with visits to a doctor or provider’s office. Assessments and screenings for diabetes, lipids, blood sugar and blood pressure are available. The program also connects participants with local resources, education and health professionals.

Lifestyle changes

To start, Mangan came in every other week to get her blood pressure checked. She also completed a six-week Better Choices, Better Health — Diabetes workshop about nutrition, reading labels and managing life with diabetes. These Better Choices, Better Health workshops are designed to help individuals learn to break down complex health improvement goals into small, achievable steps.

In addition to diet changes, exercise is key to preventing and reducing the risk of diabetes. By setting goals for herself, Mangan was able to improve her activity levels.

“I really didn’t want diabetes. So, for 30 minutes every day, I do a DVD exercise,” Mangan said. “When I started, I was on the first DVD, which is the simplest. Then, I moved to the second one. And now, I am on the third DVD, which is the hardest level.”

“The staff go out of their way to help me stay on track, too,” she added. Lifestyle changes are hard. The Bridging Health and Home staff support participants through their successes and struggles.

The Bridging Health and Home staff focus on providing holistic care to assist participants in achieving the goals that are most important to them. This might mean working on improving health for some. For others, it may mean addressing non-health-care-related goals for improving quality of life, access to food or financial resources.

Through the help of Bridging Health and Home program and her commitment to her health, Mangan eventually achieved her goals.

“By finding out, I was able to prevent myself from getting diabetes. It took me six months to get my blood pressure and blood sugar down where it needed to be, but I did it!” Mangan said.