Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Self-Management and Education are Critical in Learning to Control Diabetes

Diabetes self-management training should be considered for every patient diagnosed with the disease. Whether you’re newly diagnosed or have had diabetes for years, education is the key to being successful.

Diabetes educators specialize in helping people learn to self-manage their diabetes. They include nurses, dietitians, pharmacists and podiatrists among others. These health care professionals can help you resolve problems and develop coping strategies.

The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) has identified seven actions that are critical to diabetes self-management. They are called AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors and include:

· Healthy eating
· Being active
· Monitoring
· Taking medication
· Problem solving
· Reducing risks
· Healthy coping

What does this mean for you? It means that your diabetes educator will:

· Teach you how to work healthful eating and physical activity into your daily activities
· Teach you to check your blood sugar
· Help you understand how your medicines work
· Give you the ability to solve problems and adjust emotionally to diabetes.

Healthy Eating and Being Active: Making healthful food choices, understanding portion sizes and learning the best times to eat are important in managing diabetes. Obesity is often linked to amputations and other health problems because it decreases circulation (blood flow). With proper meal planning and enough physical activity, you can largely lower your risk for these problems.

Monitoring: It’s critical to check blood sugar every day. Diabetes educators can help you determine which blood-sugar meter best meets your needs, show you how to test your blood-sugar level and teach you to use the test results to adjust your self-management routine.

Taking Medicine: Your health care team will determine which medicines you are taking as well as explain to you where and how they work to keep your blood sugars in good range.

Problem Solving: Managing changes in blood-sugar levels is vital to managing diabetes. Diabetes educators can help you move from beginner to expert as you learn to recognize and respond to hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar), hyperglycemia (very high blood sugar) and sick days.

Reducing Risks: Because of your increased risk for many health problems, you need regular eye exams, foot and dental exams. You also need to learn how to do regular self-exams. In this case, the word ‘regular’ depends on the advice of your health care professional. For instance, daily foot exams are vital if you have lost some or all feeling in your feet.

Healthy Coping: A diabetes educator can help you identify problems you might face while treating your diabetes. They can provide support by encouraging you to talk about your concerns and fears. They can also help you learn what you can control and offer ways for you to cope with what you cannot control.

Regardless of the situation, diabetes educators can give you the tools and strategies you need to live your life to the fullest. If you feel as though you would benefit from coming to our diabetes self-management program, please call us…we’ll take care of the rest!

-- Maureen Daniello, RN, CDE
Program Coordinator for Diabetes Education

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