Being diagnosed with diabetes is difficult enough. What’s even more stressful is realizing the sheer volume of information that people with diabetes need to learn about in order to care for themselves effectively. It can truly seem overwhelming at times. But people with diabetes aren’t alone. There is a crucial support system that many patients don’t even know about: diabetes educators.
Diabetes educators are health professionals such as doctors, nurses, dietitians, social workers, and exercise physiologists. Most of these educators are Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs), having undergone special training to give patients with diabetes the most knowledgeable care possible. A recent study published in Diabetes Care shows that patients who attend diabetes education classes or who consult with a nutritionist have a one-third lower hospitalization rate. The study also found that hospitalization costs associated with diabetes were lowered by more than $11,500 for patients who received diabetes education.
Diabetes educators teach patients about the disease and give valuable health information on how to carry out daily activities and how to self-manage diabetes. Some of the basic behaviors that diabetes education focuses on are proper nutrition, appropriate physical activity, medication management, risk-reduction, and glucose monitoring. Diabetes educators also provide counseling to help patients navigate the emotional ups and downs of being diagnosed and learning to manage their own care.
Beyond diabetes educators, patients need to develop a strong support system to help them through the rough spots and to safeguard their health. This support team should include the patient’s primary physician, pharmacist, social worker, and specializing physicians such as eye doctors, dentists, and podiatrists. Each of these professionals can help ensure that every aspect of diabetes care is managed optimally to give the patient the best quality of life.
Last but not least, people with diabetes will need the support and understanding of family and friends. Instead of feeling that your condition may be an inconvenience to loved ones, allow them to show their caring and support by assisting you in your daily life. If family and friends understand the disease and how it can affect your life, they can be your first and best line of protection when it comes to your well-being. Educate your loved ones about diabetic symptoms and care so that they can be alert to warning signs. They’ll help you stay healthier—and happier, knowing that you don’t have to go it alone.