People may get overwhelmed after a diagnosis of diabetes for many reasons. Diabetes education is the key to proper diabetes self-management. 90% of diabetes care comes from you, the patient. With so much already on your to-do list, find out why you should attend diabetes education.
- Diabetes is unlike other diseases in which medication alone can often successfully treat the condition. There are various aspects of diabetes self-management including medications, nutritional management, regular exercise, glucose monitoring and emotional adjustment. Diabetes education teaches you more about the disease, how to treat it and ways to empower yourself to control it. An educated patient is better able to make essential changes to improve his or her lifestyle.
- People who are diagnosed with diabetes often have dozens of questions. Having diabetes requires you to make a myriad of decisions throughout the day to properly manage blood sugar levels. Choices include what to eat, when to eat, how to take medication, how to check blood sugar, how to care for your feet and what to do when blood sugars are high or low. People might have questions about how to use certain diabetic supplies. Diabetes education teaches people how to make the right decisions. It can even help prevent emergencies such as hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
- It takes a team to effectively provide complete diabetes education. The people involved in your diabetes self-management training should include a doctor who understands diabetes, a nutritionist, a diabetes nurse educator, your local pharmacist, a podiatrist, an eye doctor and an exercise physiologist. If you do not yet have a health care team, contact your local hospital to find out what diabetes education services are available. You can also ask your primary care physician to refer you to a local endocrinologist.
- Diabetes education can be offered individually as well as in a group setting. It can be beneficial to participate in both. In a group, you can share experiences and hear answers to questions you might not even think to ask. Support groups often take the place of group education. Starting out with an individualized plan which fits your own unique lifestyle should be the first step.
- Talk to your diabetes education team about setting goals. This is another benefit of diabetes education. An example is a patient who is overweight or obese. Obesity may increase the chances of related health conditions such as heart disease and stroke when you have diabetes. Educators can help you set short and long-term goals. A short-term goal might be committing to losing 1-2 pounds per week. A long-term goal would be losing 40 pounds over the next year. They will have suggestions and timelines to help you accomplish both of these goals.
- Diabetes education should not occur just once in your life. Education is an ongoing process that you should repeat at least every two years. Medicare allows 10 hours of diabetes education in the first year followed by two hours in the following years. Most other health insurance programs follow Medicare guidelines. Check with your own plan to see what benefits you are entitled to. Work with a diabetes nurse educator, dietitian or nutritionist to stay on track. It is important for diabetes patients to keep up to date in accordance with their current circumstances. Even people who have diabetes for decades benefit from ongoing diabetes education. As your lifestyle changes, so does your diabetes self-management plan. Diabetes is a chronic and progressive disease, making change inevitable over time.
- People with diabetes must maintain regular appointments with a team of physicians; this is not a substitute for diabetes education. Physicians have limited time for questions and discussion. Attending diabetes education sessions can help you stay current on the best treatments and guidelines. Learn about the latest nutritional guidelines, cutting edge diabetes supplies, new medications, coping mechanisms and more.
There are many good reasons to take time for diabetes education. Learn how to adapt your lifestyle in accordance with your condition. Discover new treatments and find out what to eat from your diabetes education sessions. Being educated puts you in control of diabetes rather than letting it control you.