Education is Key to Prevent and Treat Type 2 Diabetes
Globally, Type 2 diabetes is on the rise. An estimated 29.1 million people in the US alone have diabetes—8.1 million of whom may be unaware of their condition.
In the spring of 2014, the startling statistics inspired members of South Shore Health’s Diabetes Center to team together with Nutrition and Food Services, Pharmacy, Exercise Physiology, the Center for Wound Healing, Home Care Division and Cardiac Rehabilitation to explore more innovative, thoughtful ways to bring awareness and support to the community. The goal was to not only to reach those individuals living with diabetes, but also to educate those who may be at risk for developing the disease. That is when the very successful, first annual expo—Living WELL with Diabetes was born.
“We take our commitment to support the community through awareness and diabetes education very seriously,” said Anne-Marie Firestone, RN, diabetes outpatient coordinator. “And when we saw people lined up outside waiting for the doors to open, we realized that the enthusiasm out in the community may very well surpass our own."
South Shore Health’s Diabetes Center, located at our main campus on Center One, is recognized by the American Diabetes Association as a diabetes self-management education program that provides specialized services to people with pre-diabetes, newly-diagnosed diabetes or those who have been managing their diabetes for years. Services are additionally offered to women who are pregnant and have either pre-existing diabetes and/or gestational diabetes.
“We’ve noticed a steady uptick in patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and our goal is to reach and educate as many people in the community as possible—those that may be either pre-diabetic or even undiagnosed,” said Firestone.
Fortunately, many of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes involve lifestyle decisions that can not only be reduced with time and effort, but even eliminated completely over time. Often people are unaware of changes they can make due to lack of education and awareness.
More than one in every 10 people suffers from diabetes in adults 20 and older, and that figure rises dramatically in seniors 65 and older—closer to one in four. Out of those statistics, type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
Another alarming statistic: women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy increase their chance of developing type 2 diabetes by 35 to 60 percent, within 10 to 20 years following the pregnancy.
The collaborative approach to caring for each patient is what makes the Diabetes Center at South Shore Health so extraordinary. The certified diabetes educators including registered nurses, dieticians, pharmacists and exercise physiologists all offer guidance and support to those newly diagnosed with diabetes or those who have been managing their condition for years.
“When patients come to us for care, we are all passionate about meeting their individual needs through a personalized approach and designing a plan that best suits their unique case,” said Gayle Davidson, RN, certified diabetes educator. “We partner with each patient, helping them track and maintain their goals,” she added.
South Shore Health diabetes educators and dieticians understand the emotions that often accompany a diabetes diagnosis. Managing exercise, diet, medications and blood glucose monitoring can feel overwhelming. Our monthly Diabetes Support Group, free to the community and facilitated by a certified diabetes educator, provides an opportunity to discuss these challenges with others who are dealing with diabetes. While the support group doesn’t offer personal medical advice, there are frequent guest speakers (podiatrists, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, and others) who offer the latest information on diabetes management.
“As hard as a diagnosis like diabetes can be to you and your family,” Firestone said, “try and take advantage of the learning opportunities that it presents.”