March 13, 2017

Your Education and Support Options

A.J called and asked why so many people with diabetes are not concerned about education and support. He continued that he must have been very fortunate to meet me when he was diagnosed. He said he was conversing with a person that had diabetes for over six years and did not know anyone else with type 2 diabetes.

I asked where he was and A.J said he would take him to his residence where the rest of us could meet him. I asked whom else he had talked with and A.J said I was the first. A.J added that the person was in his late seventies. I suggested Allen, Ben, and Barry to start and A.J said that Jerry would be there also.

When all of us were present, A.J introduced us and explained that we were members of a diabetes support group and that there were several other support groups that he could join. He admitted that he was not much of a joiner, but did need some education. Allen said that being a member of a support group would do him some good as well as then he would know more people with type 2 diabetes and could ask questions and learn about diabetes.

He admitted this and still felt it was more than he wanted. Barry said learning about the causes and complications of type 2 diabetes can help you manage your condition. Finding support from others can motivate you to take the best care of yourself.

Ben said knowing what factors contribute to type 2 diabetes can help you better understand your disease. You can also protect your family and reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Healthcare institutions, medical centers, and schools often have educational programs to help you learn more.

Educational classes can be offered as in-person meetings or online sessions. A teacher certified in diabetes education often teaches the classes. You may learn practical techniques.

As we were talking, I asked if he used a computer and he said yes. I asked Jerry to bring up this information. These are just some of the educational programs available:
  • The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) provides education to those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The program works with over 200 partners to make the most up-to-date information available. NDEP also provides support during both the diagnosis and treatment process.
  • The Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation focuses on raising awareness about the health effects of diabetes. This program raises money to support diabetes research studies. They also offer educational articles about healthy living, recipes for meal planning, and videos related to diabetes wellness.

Living with type 2 diabetes can make you feel alone. You may feel overwhelmed by the lifestyle changes you need to make and the information you need to learn. A support group is a good source for meeting others who are in similar situations.

Support groups allow people with type 2 diabetes to meet together and provide encouragement. Being part of a support group reminds you that there are others who may share many of your same concerns. Specific support may also be an option for certain demographics, such as older adults or moms.

These are just some of the support groups available:
  • The ADA allows you to search for local chapters and learn about nearby meetings. Support groups may meet on a schedule, such as once a month in a specific location. Each meeting may cover different aspects of the disease or offer a chance to share stories.
  • The Defeat Diabetes Foundation offers a directory of support groups in local areas. The site offers many different types of meetings. For instance, support groups are available for adolescents and for caregivers.
  • Online support groups are an easy way to connect with others without traveling to meet in person. They offer the chance to join at any time, and members from almost anywhere can participate. Many online groups offer discussion boards, where members submit topics and others offer their insight. Online groups may also hold webinars or chats in which members meet online for discussion.
  • A health partner is another option for support. This is someone who knows about your diabetes and can meet with you regularly to provide encouragement, almost like a mentor. Your health partner may be someone who also has diabetes. Or they may just be a supportive person in your life, someone who motivates you to exercise or learn about preparing healthy meals. Think about the people in your life who would make a good partner in your health journey and ask someone to share in your success as you manage your diabetes.

Whether you want to learn more about type 2 diabetes through face-to-face meetings or through virtual support, you’re bound to find a setting that’s right for you. By taking time to learn more, you’ll be empowered to make a difference in your life and in your health.

After he read this, the fellow said maybe I should join a support group. Allen said to bring up my blog site and send him a link if he is interested. He was and Jerry asked for his email address and sent him a link to my blog site.

Next the fellow asked about joining our support group and Barry told him that we don't accept new members except during October and a vote must be taken to add new members. Barry said he could be allowed to attend as a guest and this would also be a way to decide when the time came.

At that, we ended out group discussion and several of us left.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this timely post Bob. I met with my endo last week for a routine visit and asked if he knew of support groups locally. He said No. But encouraged me to find one. With your resources listed here, I hope to do that although it may be online if there's nothing in person. I believe in support groups for many things and know they've helped me with other things {family issues & grief}. I hadn't thought to look online, but now I will. I am envious of your group and the extent of education you provide. All the best, Jane

Bob Fenton said...

Jane, A support group can be a great help. Some areas can have many support groups while other areas have difficulty having one support group. I have been fortunate in having several support groups in my area and believe me when I say this has been a great advantage. One group believes in natural remedies and will not tell their doctors anything about the "natural medicines they use. The rest of the support groups believe the opposite and that the doctor should know everything that is used.

Only one group is led by a doctor and the others are not, although the doctor would prefer that each group would be led by a doctor. Gradually the doctor has come to realize that each group has a purpose and that his group gains a benefit because the group I belong to does more research and holds more meetings involving several of the groups and tackles topics that his group and several of the other groups never take up.

It is interesting to hear the questions from other groups when we have outside speakers that are not speakers they have for their meetings. As such, study groups can have different objectives and benefits for their members.

Hopefully, you will be able to find a group, even an online group that can be of help.

Jane said...

Such diversity of purpose among the support groups you describe. Do you have a blog already written on how to start a support group? I was wondering if I would start with the Endocrinology doctor I see to put out information on such a group looking for members. And how did you enlist the participation of a doctor, nurse educator, etc.? They would have to volunteer their time since there is no money for compensation. These are my initial thoughts but I'm sure this is much more involved. Thanks for any recommendations you have. Jane

Bob Fenton said...

Jane - No blogs on starting a support group. Our group was started by accident. Three of us were getting together two or three times per month at a local restaurant. About six months later, we found out another group of three were meeting every Saturday afternoon at the same restaurant. We started meeting together two Saturdays a month and over the next six months added five more members. We continued to add a member or two almost monthly over the next year. After 18 months we had someone that needed to see a doctor as he had not been taking care of himself and that is when we discovered a second group led by the doctor.

The third group resulted when three of our group wanted dues and a regular meeting date since we were meeting once or twice per month and did not have officers as such. We felt at that time we should also consider having a leader and a few other positions. We did not have a doctor involved until then and the doctor that had his own group attended most of the meetings when the three groups met together.

I like your idea of organizing through the doctor and especially a nurse educator. Do realize that it make take some time to get a group of any size. You may start out without a leader and then find one. \

You may contact me using my email address that is on my profile page. Good luck! Bob