Medicare’s Free Screenings Help Older Adults Get a Jump on Diabetes

Former Atlanta Hawks Forward and Basketball Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins huddles with older adults in the Atlanta area and talks about the importance of getting a jump on diabetes through screening, detection and prevention.

Did you know that a significant number of Georgia’s older adults are at risk for diabetes?  Among the Medicare population ages 65 or older living in Georgia, it is estimated that more than 150,000 have undiagnosed diabetes and more than 450,000 have pre-diabetes, most of whom are undiagnosed.  If undiagnosed and untreated, diabetes can often lead to serious health conditions including heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure or amputations.

During November, former Atlanta Hawks forward and Basketball Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins and the Medicare Diabetes Screening Project (MDSP) teamed up with Atlanta city officials, senior centers, churches and other community-based organizations on “Get a Jump on Diabetes,” a campaign to promote use of Medicare’s free diabetes screening benefits. Other local partners included the Atlanta Regional Commission Area Agency on Aging, Grady Health System, the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians and the Regional Council of Churches of Atlanta.

Dominique Wilkins, along with Congressman John Lewis, Atlanta City Council President Caesar Mitchell and the community partners listed above, kicked off the campaign at the Loudermilk Center in Atlanta on November 9. The community health forum allowed older adults to learn more about Medicare’s free diabetes screenings and hear Dominique Wilkins stress the importance of getting a jump on diabetes through screening, detection and prevention. This forum also featured representatives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the American Diabetes Association, and other local diabetes experts who presented information about screening and detection of diabetes, and how these relate to prevention and treatment.

“My mom, aunt and I all have diabetes, so I understand how serious this disease can be,” said MDSP Spokesperson Dominique Wilkins.  “The good news is that by taking advantage of Medicare’s free diabetes screening test, older adults can know their risk for the disease and begin to make changes that can help to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. In the event they would learn they already had diabetes but just didn’t know it, they could then begin to work with their health care team to control the disease.”

The Atlanta Hawks also showed their support for the MDSP during home games on November 12th and November 14th, with messages about diabetes screening for older adults on the big screen and the world premier of a new public service announcement featuring Dominique Wilkins and several local Atlanta-area seniors.

The home game on November 14th coincided with  World Diabetes Day (WDD). WDD is led by the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) and its partner organizations, including Novo Nordisk, Inc., and engages millions of people worldwide in diabetes awareness and advocacy.  Observed in the U.S. and in more than 160 other countries, this day-long event includes screenings, educational workshops, walks and runs, and radio and television spots highlighting the growing need for increased diabetes prevention and awareness programs.

If you are an Atlanta-area Medicare beneficiary who is 65 years or older and have one risk factor, you are eligible for a free, annual diabetes screening from Medicare with no co-pay and no deductible. The risk factors for diabetes are having a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight or obese, or having a history of diabetes during pregnancy.

To learn more about Medicare’s free diabetes screening benefit, talk with your doctor or other health care provider. Ask if you should be screened for diabetes – and Get a Jump on Diabetes!

Participating Organizations

Get a Jump on Diabetes Fact Sheet