That is a great question that I get asked very often from the older adults I help.
Diabetes education programs are usually offered through a wellness center affiliated with a hospital organization. They have to meet national standards and accreditations in order to ensure they are providing quality care. They are open to the public and serve both newly diagnosed diabetics, gestational diabetes and long term diabetics who need a refresher course to manage their diabetes more effectively. The goal is to help you meet your health-related goals.
The good news for an older adult is that the classes and counseling is a benefit to you under your Medicare Part B insurance plan. (You may be eligible for 10 hours of initial instruction and 2 hours each subsequent year.) Because it is an annual benefit, you should take advantage of it and participate in a class or session that meets your needs. Other insurance companies also provide some coverage but be sure to check with your plan to be fully aware of any costs you might incur such as a deductible.
Your physician has to provide a referral to the diabetes self-management program which includes some of your medical history and laboratory data so that the professionals in the diabetes program can best tailor a plan for you.
The healthcare team in a diabetes program generally includes your own physician who gets the ball rolling, a diabetes educator who could be a nurse or registered dietitian, the office staff who will help you with the necessary paperwork and arrange your appointments and other members as needed such as a pharmacist. They provide individual counseling sessions to get to know you and your personal goals and classes that provide information including meal planning from a dietitian, foot care, medication management, sick day care, holiday eating, restaurant dining, label reading and other topics of interest to people with diabetes. You can bring a family member or friend with you who can help you manage your diabetes too. There are also support groups that you might find informative and helpful as you manage your diabetes.
Getting as much knowledge about diabetes and managing your blood sugar from certified health professionals like registered dietitians will help you meet your goals! Good luck!