Diabetes Canada hosted a health fair and barbecue for residents in the North Central neighbourhood of Regina on Wednesday with a focus on diabetes prevention and early detection.
Donna Adams, a nurse with the North Central Community Association, said the organization offers subsidized rates for people needing foot care, something she said is crucial for the elderly and those with diabetes.
"If your diabetes is out of control you can get nerve damage and so then you don't even realize you might have sores on your feet," she said. "That can lead to infections and then it can lead to amputations."
Adams is one of the healthcare professionals who makes the Care and Share program possible. It enables elderly people in the community to come for a meal once a week and get their blood sugar and blood pressure tested.
Adams said she frequently comes across people suffering from undiagnosed diabetes.
One day, she said, she was talking to a man who admitted to accidentally stepping out of his shoe while walking in the neighbourhood. He told her his feet were so numb that he didn't even realize that he was walking around shoeless until someone told him.
"So many are walking around and don't even realize that they have diabetes or high blood pressure, and that can lead to heart attacks and heart disease," Adams said.
Risks and symptoms
Brie Hnetka, regional director for Saskatchewan for Diabetes Canada, said people in North Central are generally at a higher risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Aboriginal people are three to five times more likely to develop the disease, and lower income people are also at a higher risk.
According to Hnetka, 100,000 people live in Saskatchewan have been diagnosed with diabetes. Another 170,000 people have pre-diabetes, 50 per cent of whom will develop the full-blown disease.
On top of that, 43,000 people in the province live with diabetes and don't know it.
"It's important for diabetes Canada to help people become aware of their risk factors. The earlier we can detect diabetes, there's less risk for complications down the road.," Hnetka said.
She said Diabetes Canada hopes to prevent the disease, delay its progression and help diabetics live healthily despite their condition.
Hnetka urges people to watch for symptoms that include being increasingly tired, thirsty or having a change in weight. She urged those with a heightened risk to get checked by a doctor every year.