Multiple studies have shown that finding support in your diabetes experience can help you manage the stress and burnout associated. Group situations allow people to find the support and encouragement of others to make healthy choices and find ways to manage their condition.
The US Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has an article titled, "4 Steps to Managing Your Diabetes for Life". After "Step 1: Learning About Diabetes" and "Step 2: Know Your Diabetes ABC", there comes, "Step 3: Learn How to Live with Diabetes". This process emerges from trial and error, frantic phone calls to diabetes educators and searching for lists of steps you can take to manage the ins and outs of the condition. Yet lists like these often overlook one of the best ways to learn how to live a life with diabetes - finding a buddy.
Why Everyone Needs a Diabetes Buddy
While the average age of diagnosis for Type 1 diabetes is 13 years old, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can affect people of any age. Yet patient education and management are very different in these conditions. In both cases, you are taught about carbohydrate counts, blood sugar testing and insulin ratios. In both cases, lowering your A1C can help you stay healthy and avoid diabetes-related complications. However, in a child or teenager diagnosed with Type 1, their parents will also learn how to help their child manage their condition. They may still experience loneliness and embarrassment when they return to school, but their support system at home is well-informed. When a person with Type 2 is diagnosed, typically as an adult, they are given the information they need to care for themselves but they often have to then, in turn, teach it to friends and family members. In both cases, learning you have diabetes can be an isolating experience.
Having a Friend Keeps You Healthy
Aside from easing the psychological symptoms associated with diabetes, finding a diabetes buddy can actually improve your health. Multiple studies have shown that finding support in your diabetes experience can help you manage the stress and burnout associated with the condition. Group situations allow people to find the support and encouragement of others to make healthy choices and find ways to manage their condition.
Diabetes Support Groups Are Not What You See on TV
There is a perception that finding a diabetes support group will lead you to a church basement, with bad coffee, and poor lighting. In reality, support groups have a much more modern twist.
- Find a Facebook group of parents of children with diabetes or people with diabetes in your local area. There you will find valuable information on everything from carbohydrate counting in social situations to group gatherings of people with diabetes.
- Get involved with your local chapter of the American Diabetes Association or Juvenile Diabetes Research Association (JDRF). There you can find people who are impacted by diabetes in different ways, lobbying for healthcare change, raising funds for research or volunteering in hospitals to help those who are newly diagnosed.
- Ask your doctor about peer support specialists. Peer support specialists are those who have lived with or are currently living with diabetes. Not only are they well-versed in the condition, but they can also connect you with resources that will help you stay healthy.
There is emotional and physical power in finding a friend who can relate to the emotional and physical process of caring for yourself or a person with diabetes. Find a diabetes buddy in your local community and enjoy the power of that connection.
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Medical or nutritional information on the mySugr website is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult a physician or health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.