AARP Eye Center
Diabetes: Ask. Screen.Know
By Alejandra Owens, October 24, 2009 05:19 PM
From Meg Grant
Louis Zorich, the actor best known for playing Paul Reiser's father on the hit TV sitcom Mad About You, thought his gender could protect him from diabetes. "My mother had diabetes," he said in a Friday afternoon question-and-answer session with his wife, Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis. "I used to help her with her insulin shots. Then my sisters got it. So I thought, 'Men in my family don't get diabetes.'"
But earlier this year, after noticing that he was feeling sleepy and groggy during the day, Zorich had his blood sugar tested and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He now manages the disease with medication--and by being hyper-vigilant about maintaining the healthy lifestyle he and Dukakis have practiced throughout the 47-year marriage. "We eat right," Zorich said. "We exercise. I try to walk everyday. I want to continue to be Olympia's partner in life and on stage. That's why I'm very careful."
After learning that seven of 10 people age 65-plus have diabetes or pre-diabetes -- and that almost half of them don't know it, Reiser and Dukakis have throw their support behind a public-awareness campaign called Ask.Screen.Know, urging people to get screened for the disease. Those with risks factors such as a family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or obesity are eligible for a free diabetes test through Medicare. "And yet, less than 10 percent of those eligible are taking advantage of the test," Zorich said.
"I know, who wants to add another medical test?" asked Dukakis, who says she's not so much her husband's caregiver as his cheerleader. "But few things in life are free - and this is. And we have grandchildren. We have to keep in our minds why we want to stay healthy - and be a role model for them."