Elise Edwards, Credentialed Diabetes Educator and Accredited Exercise Physiologist, writing for World Diabetes Day 2020
Diabetes is managed best with the support of your A-Team. Who is a part of your A-Team? It will include a range of health professionals as well as your family and friends; but most importantly, it will be led by you. You make daily decisions and choices into how to manage your diabetes. Each year there are recommendations to having certain aspects of your health examined to ensure your diabetes is managed well and to be the best version of yourself. Teamwork makes the dreamwork, so how can you get the most out of your healthcare team?
In September 2020, nearly 1.4 million Australians were diagnosed with some form of diabetes (that’s nearly 5.6% of the population!). That’s an increase from 1.2 million (or 5.1% of Australian’s) from 2012. This increase could be attributed to several reasons including sedentary lifestyle, poor food choices, genetic factors and environmental influences. It could also be from increased awareness of the condition leading to earlier diagnosis than previous years. The rise in the diagnosis of diabetes will increase the burden for those affected, families and the healthcare system. This makes having access to a full health care team so important. Access to appropriate education and healthcare are crucial in the fight and prevention of diabetes!
Meet your Health Professionals:
Your Family Doctor (GP)
It is recommended to have certain tests reviewed from your GP at least every 6 months (sometimes more frequently if required). These include HbA1c blood test, blood pressure, kidney health and blood fats. Your GP is your first point of call if you have any concerns on your health and will also be able to refer you to the rest of your A-Team below!
Your Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE)
It is recommended to have a diabetes management review from your CDE every 6 months (sometimes more frequently if required). Your CDE can work with you to help understand your condition, manage your diabetes better and keep up to date with the latest research and technology in the diabetes world. They will be able to empower you to self-manage your diabetes and provide more information into how to prevent further complications.
It is recommended for you to review your eating plan with your dietitian at least once a year. Your dietitian will work with you to develop a personalised healthy eating plan to suit your individual needs and lifestyle. They can also show you how to read food labels, how to still enjoy eating out, how to modify recipes and how to manage your diabetes if you have any other complex health conditions to consider in your eating plan.
Your Exercise Physiologist (EP)
It is recommended for you to review your current physical activity status with your EP at least once a year. Some people find more benefit for having regular contact with their EP with monthly 1:1 reviews or even a weekly group session. Your EP will work with you to develop an individualised, safe exercise program or physical activity plan to help keep you moving. Remember, it doesn’t have to be ‘structured exercise’; EPs can help you sit less and move more.
It is recommended for you to have your medications reviewed by a pharmacist at least once a year. Medications are always changing and sometimes they can even interact with each other to leave you with some unpleasant side effects. Your pharmacist can give you advice on how to get the best benefit from your medications whether it be timing, type or discussing side effects. They can even do this from the comfort of your own home with a Home Medication Review!
It is recommended for you to visit your podiatrist at least once a year (at least every 3-6 months if you have ‘high risk feet’). People with diabetes have increased risk of foot ulcers and other complications with the feet and legs. Your podiatrist can work with you to discuss if you are at any risk of developing more serious problems and provide you with solutions into how to manage or prevent these.
It is recommended for you to keep tabs on your emotional health and get in contact with your psychologist/psychiatrist/counsellor when required. Your psychologist/psychiatrist/counsellor are great for managing any anxiety, depression or any worries/stresses regarding diabetes or any other chronic condition. Diabetes stress is very real and not uncommon, so don’t be afraid to talk to your GP about sending a referral to get some more help to keep you on track.
It is recommended for you to visit your optometrist at least once every two years (more frequently if you have other complications). People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing chronic eye conditions which, if left untreated, may result in vision impairment. Your optometrist can comprehensively examine your eyes and monitor any early signs/issues.
It is recommended you visit your dentist at least once a year (more frequently if you have other complications). People with diabetes can have an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease due to increased levels of blood glucose and impaired blood circulation around the gums. So get those pearly whites checked!
If you’re managing other chronic conditions, things can get quite complex. You may need further assistance from a specialist such as an endocrinologist, periodontist, speech pathologist or prosthetist. Your GP will be able to send a referral to the specialist you need to help you manage diabetes as a part of your life.
Why Friends and Family Support Are Important:
You always hear how family and friends are your rock. In managing health, this is especially the case! Your family and friends can assist by providing daily support in managing your emotional and physical health. Some days will be harder than others to manage your diabetes, but remember your loved ones are there to help!
Why You Need to Take the Lead:
Diabetes burnout is very real and may present when you may feel overwhelmed by the process in managing your diabetes. This is very normal and can be heightened by managing multiple chronic conditions. This is why it’s crucial to think about what’s important to you so you can be your best self. What is your motivation to stay well? It might be your spouse or another loved one, keeping up with your grandchildren, to fit in to your favourite outfit, to travel or even just simply to be as independent as possible. With the help from your health care team, your loved ones and a strong leader (YOU!) in the driver’s seat, you can manage your diabetes well to live happy and healthy.
Not only will managing your diabetes better cost you less, it will empower you to continue living a happy, healthy life and be your best self! If you have any questions about diabetes and how to manage this better to be your best self, start the conversation with your doctor about how your annual cycle of care should look and who is a part of your A-Team. Teamwork makes the dreamwork!
Elise Edwards is an Exercise Physiologist and Diabetes Educator with BallyCara’s Wellness Program, read more about our Wellness offerings (including access to Exercise Physiologists and group exercise classes) here!
Categorised in: BallyCara Blog
This post was written by Lachlan Green