The challenges associated with diabetes self-management can make a person feel different and alone. Support groups can be helpful and motivating for people with diabetes. Discover what diabetes support groups are good for and why it can be beneficial to share your experiences.
- People with diabetes face the ongoing demands of daily self-management. Often they feel isolated, misunderstood and stressed out about facing diabetes alone. Support groups provide a venue where people with diabetes can meet others who have similar medical, social and psychological concerns. Meeting other people with diabetes can help you feel more understood. Sharing experiences can help group members achieve a sense of community and become empowered from a feeling of belonging.
- During a support group session, you can get solutions to common diabetes problems such as how to eat without raising blood sugar levels or easy ways to count carbohydrates. Someone in the group might suggest a great gym for exercise or a place where you can buy fresh produce on a budget. You can also learn about the latest diabetes research, management and treatment.
- A support group is a non-threatening environment where you can ask any type of questions. Sometimes people feel hesitant to ask their health care team certain questions for fear of sounding uninformed. A support group is a place where you can open up and share because everyone else may be facing the same issues. It also makes it possible to explore important topics you might not have thought of including where to get diabetes supplies at a reasonable cost and which manufacturer makes the most comfortable insulin syringes. It helps when the whole family gets involved with the support group since diabetes affects everyone in the family.
- Support groups for women with diabetes help them understand how to face specific issues including relationships, acceptance of diabetes, proper self-management and consideration of pregnancy. It is a place where women can get more information about everything from getting along with family members to trying to conceive a child. Diabetes support groups for men might explore issues such as diabetes self-management and problems associated with sexuality including infertility and erectile dysfunction.
- Children with diabetes can feel confused, anxious and different from their peers. They might become resentful of the ongoing nature of diabetes self-management. Often support groups include children with diabetes and their parents. There might be activities for children to help them learn about diabetes as well as information provided to parents to ease their concerns.
- There are also couples support groups to help a spouse understand what it means if they have a partner with diabetes. Couples can share their concerns and talk about what it is like to live with diabetes in a relationship. This gives couples a safe place to express their feelings and explore possible solutions to health and relationship issues.
- People may find other diabetes support groups based on their age or ethnic background. For example, it might be helpful for a retiree to attend a support group for seniors. Latinos may gain useful information by joining a support group where they can speak Spanish and more easily understand what is being shared during the session.
- Before you join a support group, talk to the person running the group to find out if it is the best one for you. Make a list of what you hope to get from the group and ask questions with regard to your goals and concerns. Ask your health care provider for support group recommendations. Attend one or two meetings to find out if it is the right group for you. If the first one isn’t a good fit, reach out to find another support group where you can get the help and support you need.
People with diabetes should participate in a support group and encourage their family members to join them. A support group provides a non-threatening environment where you can share experiences, ask questions and learn more about managing diabetes. Being part of a support group reminds you that you are not alone.