I was a state trooper in New Hampshire and a police detective in Springfield, Vt., for a total of 26 years. I owned and operated my own restaurant for 11 years, was an over-the-road truck driver for 13 years and served two terms in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
So I tend to think I can handle just about anything that can come at me in life.
Then one day my doctor told me I had a dangerously high blood-sugar level. Once the shock wore off, I was left to conduct my own research to find out what this troubling news meant. After finding a new physician, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
In the past, this might have meant a quick descent into disability and depression for a 75-year-old man. Fortunately, older Americans with diabetes like me today are living longer and better than ever before.
Approximately one in three seniors 65 and older has diabetes, and 50 percent of them are undiagnosed.
That is why I am teaming up with Patricia Stradleigh, manager of the Maricopa Integrated Health System’s El Mirage Family Health Center, to spread the word about the free Medicare diabetes-screening benefit with no co-pay or deductible.
Thanks to people like Patricia, a registered nurse, more and more seniors in Arizona are getting the message.
MIHS is the first health-care organization in the state to win a grant from the Medicare Diabetes Screening Project to promote diabetes screening and prevention for Medicare beneficiaries.
We’re talking to community groups about getting screened for diabetes, one of the most important things an older adult can do.
Since being diagnosed in 2007, I have learned to control my blood glucose and to eat a better diet.
The good news is that “nothing happens fast with diabetes.” But, if left undiagnosed and untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, blindness and amputations.
If you are 65 or older, I urge you to take advantage of Medicare’s free diabetes-screening test. By discovering your risk for the disease, you can begin to make changes that can help to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. To learn more, go to www.screenfor diabetes.org.
Elbert “Bick” Bicknell is chairman of the Maricopa Integrated Health System Board of Directors.