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Everybody has a role to play in improving diabetes care: For people living with diabetes, community and support systems can be lifesavers

Modern Healthcare
November 1, 2023
By Dr. Henry Anhalt, embecta

 

Despite the substantial advances we have made in treating diabetes, the number of people affected continues to grow rapidly across the globe. Broadening awareness of the importance of caregiver support and diabetes education can result in profound improvements in mental and physical health for those living with diabetes.

Access to education and support can mitigate feelings of loneliness and create an environment where people in the diabetes community understand that they are not alone. Research has found that such feelings of community can make it easier for them to take control of their health, adhere to their medication regimens, and live more satisfying lives. To build this level of support, everybody needs to understand what caregivers and people living with diabetes experience and how to support them effectively.

Support starts with education

The burden of living with diabetes includes continuous monitoring and decision-making, following specific medication regimens, representing a dramatic change in everyday life and responsibilities, especially for the recently diagnosed. Anyone living with diabetes can experience diabetes burnout.

As a society, we can build broad support systems that help overcome these challenges, starting with education. Although most people probably know at least one person with diabetes, people in the diabetes community can develop feelings of isolation due to harmful misconceptions and stigma. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many people living with diabetes report that they have experienced prejudiced attitudes.

Building support for the diabetes community and caregivers

Some tremendous organizations have made great strides in broadening the support network available to the diabetes community. I am a proud trustee of Camp Nejeda, which serves children, teens, and adults living with diabetes as well as their families. The camp gives children who may never have met someone else with diabetes the opportunity to live in comfortable surroundings as part of a community with other people who have shared experiences with diabetes. For a week or two, they do not need to explain their diabetes management routines, such as blood sugar testing, finger pricks, insulin injections, ketones, or blood sugar lows caused by insulin reactions or carbohydrate counting.

To make this opportunity as widely available as possible, the Camp Nejeda Foundation subsidizes the cost of this experience for all campers. The Foundation also provides additional financial assistance to approximately one-third of its campers each year, paying between 20% and 100% of the cost to participate. I have seen firsthand the positive impact of this experience, especially for children who have never met anyone else with diabetes.

The Diabetes Foundation also promotes community-building among people living with diabetes. For example, the organization hosts events, including the monthly series “You Have Diabetes, Diabetes Doesn’t Have You.” Hosted by Chris Bryant, a Diabetes Foundation Diabete Care Guide, this program discusses issues related to living with diabetes. It uses peer group problem-solving to help develop personalized solutions for participants who need them.

Emotional support from these organizations and others can help people with diabetes manage their care.

How you can you improve the diabetes support system

We all have a role to play in supporting people with diabetes. You can help simply by listening to friends, family members, colleagues, and other members of the diabetes care community. The more you listen, the better you will understand that both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have complex causes that are not always manageable.

Organizations can also contribute by partnering with advocacy groups or providing resources. I’m proud to be the chief medical officer at embecta, a global diabetes care company with a nearly 100-year legacy in insulin delivery. embecta is demonstrating its commitment to empowering people living with diabetes to live a life unlimited through partnerships with both Camp Nejeda and its foundation and the Diabetes Foundation, among others. This type of support offers embecta employees the chance to connect directly with individuals affected by the condition while strengthening the social support network people living with diabetes and caregivers need. As leaders in diabetes technology, this provides an invaluable opportunity for employees to stay patient centered as we push the field forward.

Partnerships like these, together with the efforts of countless individuals, can make a powerful difference in the lives of millions in the diabetes community.

 

Read More at Modern Healthcare.