For much of her life, Judy Bender of Smithfield was the caretaker.
She took care of others — her parents, her husband, a handful of foster children.
But three years ago, it was time for Bender to take care of herself: she was diagnosed with diabetes.
It came as a surprise to Bender, 69. Her doctor told her that diabetes can be one of the changes associated with aging.
According to the DiabetesJournal.org, a variety of age-related changes can affect the clinical presentation of the disease. Aging itself can lead to lower insulin resistance. Since 1993, of the 7.8 million people diagnosed with diabetes, 43 percent were over age 65.
For Bender, the diagnosis meant an almost immediate life change. She exercised more, ate a balanced, diabetic diet. She lost more than 70 pounds in a year.
Friends tell her, she said, that she’s too skinny. She needs some meat on her bones. But really, she’s the size she should be.
No longer can Bender skip meals, a frequent occurrence when she owned, with her late husband, an auto-parts store in Shelbyville. She eats several times throughout the day in small meals, with no more than 26 grams of carbohydrates at a time.
While Bender mostly controls her diabetes through diet and nutrition, plus regular exercise — a treadmill in her living room was intended to go in a back bedroom, but in the living room, it serves as a regular reminder to hop on and walk.
Every night before going to bed, Bender checks her blood sugar. If her blood sugar is too low, she uses an insulin pen to administer the critical hormone.
A widow, Bender makes sure to tell the men she dates about her condition. Some, she said, decide that a diabetic companion is too much stress. Others are more receptive.
Bender is a member of the KIPDA Rural Diabetes Coalition in Henry County.
On Saturday, the coalition will host “Act on Diabetes Now” in recognition of National Diabetes Month. The event runs from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the 4-H building on the Henry County Fairgrounds, and will include guest speakers Dr. Ramana Chennubhotla, and certified diabetes educator Diane Davidson, R.N. For more information, please contact Mona Huff at (502) 845-6849.
Also on Saturday, Campbellsburg Second Baptist Church is hosting Live Empowered, a kick off event for families with, or at risk for, diabetes. That event begins at 6 p.m. with a diabetes friendly meal, and the program begins at 7. For more information, contact the Rev. Earl Higgins at (502) 541-2840.
The coalition encourages residents to wear blue every Friday during November to show their support for diabetics.
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