Did you know that just over 10% of the US population has diabetes and 1 in 3 American adults is at risk for developing diabetes? Worldwide 1 in 11 adults has diabetes. November is National Diabetes Month. If you’re reading this, it is because likely you or someone you care about has diabetes. Take the opportunity this month to spread awareness about diabetes.

Talk about it

One of the best ways to make others more aware of diabetes and is to talk about it. Share with others around you the challenges of managing diabetes, your feelings and emotions, and the positive of what’s working for you. People with diabetes have different experiences, but we can all learn from each other. Consider sharing or your experience or some diabetes facts on social media. If you are ready to do more, consider volunteering for non-profit organizations such as the American Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, or others.

Know the risk factors for type 2 diabetes

If you have diabetes, you can probably list some of the risk factors. It’s important to know the risk factors so you can encourage others to think about their risk. To learn more about risk factors, consider taking the ADA Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test for yourself or someone else. The risk test asks questions about age, family history of diabetes, blood pressure, physical activity, history of gestational diabetes (i.e. diabetes during pregnancy), race/ethnicity, and height and weight. At the end of the test, you are given a risk score and results can be reviewed or sent to you via email. If you know someone who might be at risk, share the risk test with them.

Have regular visits with your healthcare team

Seeking out and following medical advice is critical with diabetes. Hopefully you have a primary care provider who is working with you but think about a healthcare team. Others on your team can include a diabetes doctor, eye doctor, foot doctor, nurse, dietitian, pharmacist, dentist, physical therapist, and mental health counselor. Many healthcare providers are now offering telemedicine appointments, so you may be able to meet with them from your living room. Tell others about who is on your diabetes healthcare team.

Encourage mental health

Living with diabetes is challenging and can feel overwhelming. People with diabetes have higher rates of depression. Depression makes it harder to care for yourself and manage diabetes. COVID-19 has added to this and with physical isolation, job loss, financial stress, and school closures. It’s important to talk about what you’re feeling and ask for help if you need it. Friends and family can be a great source of support. If you need some additional support, ADA has a Mental Health Provider Directory with mental health providers who specialize in diabetes. Check in with others and ask how they are feeling during this time.

Learn something new about diabetes

There is a lot to learn to really understand diabetes. It doesn’t matter if you are newly diagnosed or had diabetes for years, there is always something new to learn. There are continuous advancements with monitoring, medications, and technology related to diabetes. If you need a starting point, the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists has 7 key self-care behaviors which are healthy eating, being active, monitoring, taking medication, problem solving, reducing risks, and healthy coping.   Pick a topic you want to learn more about. For more diabetes education resources, look for an accredited diabetes education program near you. Share with those around you what you are doing to learn more about diabetes.

By Christine McKinney, RD LDN CDE



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