You can live a healthy life with diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body is unable to control the amount of sugar, or glucose, in the blood. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age, and left uncontrolled, it can result in dangerous health conditions. One in five Alaskans age 65 and older has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and one in 10 has pre-diabetes, which puts them at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

Many other Alaska seniors have not been tested and are unaware that they have either of these conditions. To find out if you might be at risk for diabetes and to learn more about screening, see the resources section at the end of this article.

While many seniors have or will develop diabetes, it’s very possible to live a healthy life with type 2 diabetes by managing the disease. Several self-management programs are available throughout Alaska to help individuals with diabetes better understand their disease and make positive lifestyle changes. This article explores one such program as part of a multi-part series on self-management programs in Alaska. Look for more articles on other diabetes self-management programs in future editions of Senior Voice.


The Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP) is offered by Mountain-Pacific Quality Health through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, this diabetes self-management program is open to individuals with diabetes, their families, and caregivers at no charge. The program consists of six group classes, each 90 minutes long. Classes are taught in Anchorage and Mat-Su, and specific locations and times vary. Numerous classes are offered throughout the year.

DEEP leaders strive to help each participant develop the skills and confidence to manage their disease. The classes cover a number of topics, such as understanding diabetes; healthy eating; exercise; preventing complications; understanding and managing medications; how to talk to your doctor and pharmacist; and taking measurements, such as glucose, blood pressure, and weight. Participants learn from each other and many come away with a strong social support system. After completing the program, participants can continue to interact with other DEEP participants by attending quarterly meetings. These meetings feature a guest speaker and provide an opportunity to continue to learn about diabetes self-management.

DEEP has helped many participants manage their disease. Participants have set new health goals and seen significant health improvements, including dramatic reductions in average blood sugar levels. While participants of all ages attend this program, DEEP leaders note that this class can be especially beneficial for seniors, as diabetes complications are more likely to develop with age. They say that this class gives participants an opportunity to focus on diabetes management and has inspired many seniors to change their ways and form new healthy habits.

Next in this series: Stanford’s Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP), also known as Living Well Alaska


For more information about DEEP or to find a class, visit or call 877-561-3202.

Information about diabetes and diabetes risk factors:

Take a type 2 diabetes risk test at

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