Managing diabetes to prevent complications and improve quality of life is a daily reality for 30.3 million Americans. Millions more are unaware they are living with diabetes (7.2 million) or prediabetes (75.6 million). The American Diabetes Association Diabetes Alert Day, held on March 26, 2019, focuses on the seriousness of diabetes and encourages the use of a quick and simple Diabetes Risk Test.
Understanding risk factors, along with blood sugar levels, offers individuals the choice to make behavior and lifestyle changes to prevent or effectively manage their health condition. Developing a long-term lifestyle change can be challenging, but self-management education programs are available to offer support and tools for improving quality of life.
Joe was struggling to manage his diabetes after his wife died.
Joe and his wife were regulars at the senior center. When Joe’s wife passed away, he continued to work hard to help with Meals on Wheels, but found he got tired and needed a nap when he was done. Joe took his insulin, but his wife had always helped him manage his blood sugar and monitor the food he ate.
Losing his wife took a major toll on Joe’s health, both mentally and physically. He also battles both diabetes and a heart condition. His local doctor referred him to a specialist an hour away; finding a ride to his appointments is difficult. His daughter works full-time and he hates asking her to take time off from work to take him. He enjoys seeing his new specialist, but feels his primary doctor thought he was a ‘lost cause’.
Joe chose to participate in self-management education to learn to manage his disease.
“With a push from Angie, the senior center director, Joe participated in a diabetes self-management workshop in the fall of 2018. At first, he wasn’t really excited about attending, but as the weeks went on, he started seeing positive changes the workshops were helping him make in his life,” shared Tami Sterling, quality improvement consultant for Great Plains Quality Innovation Network (QIN).
Workshop participants are asked to set action plans and report the next week. Joe’s first action plan was to take a nap every day. While Joe admits he was trying to pull one over on the trainer and get a laugh from the group, he really felt that was all he could accomplish. By the third week of the six week program, Joe’s action plan was to start testing his blood sugar ONCE a day and wash a window. By the sixth week, Joe was testing his blood sugar three times a day…and acting on the results!
He took the time to learn about high and low blood sugar and what to eat to manage his diabetes; something his wife had always done for him. In the final workshop, Joe set a long-term goal to continue to take his blood sugar and prove to everyone he was not a ‘lost cause’!
His progress was inspiring.
Sterling saw the impact first-hand, “The positive changes he made in his life from the workshops were nothing short of amazing. It was great to see someone take back their life.”
A recent visit with Angie, the director of the senior center, confirmed Joe feels better, has lost weight, walks daily and does a lot more of the things he used to do. He uses action plans to help him accomplish both health-related issues and other tasks he wants to accomplish. He has even shared his experience with others and encouraged them to attend a diabetes self-management education workshop. He still misses his wife a lot, but feels that she would be very proud of how he is managing his diabetes.”
Joe had the choice to learn to manage his diabetes and it changed his life.
Millions who are unaware can have the same choice, if they know their risk. Spread the word and encourage the use of the quick and simple Diabetes Risk Test. Find a diabetes care content expert, along with tools and resource for diabetes self-management on the Great Plains QIN website.