About the Author:
Guest Blogger Timika Chambers, MSN, BSN, RN, CDE, has been a Registered Nurse for over 18 years and has a Masters in Nurse Education. She also has over 10 years of Diabetes Self-Management Training experience and is a Certified Diabetes Educator. Her mission is to educate, empower, inspire, and motivate others to make positive health choices. Timika serves individuals with diabetes and prediabetes, as well as healthcare professionals who desire to enhance their knowledge and skills in diabetes management.
I love it when people can show or tell me their home blood glucose readings and give me their most recent Hemoglobin A1C. However, sometimes I do not receive the same quick response when I inquire about their blood pressure readings, cholesterol numbers, urine microalbumin, or other medical information. The usual response I receive is “I don’t know. I guess they are okay.” When you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to see the bigger picture. Diabetes is more than just controlling your blood sugar. Diabetes is lifestyle management.
It is critical to set the tone early on in the patient-diabetes educator relationship. Below are five things we can emphasize to help our patients understand that diabetes is more than just blood sugar management.
- Know your blood sugar numbers and then some. The American Diabetes Association encourages people who have been diagnosed with diabetes to keep their hemoglobin A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol within the target ranges to help decrease their risk of developing diabetes complications (American Diabetes Association, 2017). It is important for people with diabetes to know their Body Mass Index (BMI), as well. I find it helpful to show the BMI table and what their BMI means in relation to healthy weight, overweight and obesity. In addition to encouraging adequate amounts of physical activity, we must emphasize the importance of adequate sleep and stress management techniques.
- Ask for a diabetes action plan. An action plan is an individualized plan that is developed by the patient and their healthcare team. An action plan should include signs and symptoms of high and low blood sugar, target blood sugar ranges, steps they should take to normalize their blood sugar, and when and where to seek medical attention. The action plan should have their idea blood pressure and weight listed, as well.
Diabetes is more than just controlling your blood sugar. Diabetes is lifestyle management.
- Ask for a referral to see a Registered Dietician and/or a Certified Diabetes Educator when there has been a life event, such as a new diagnosis or change in medication. When there is additional stress on the body, such as a new diagnosis, medications may need to be adjusted and blood sugars may need to be checked more often.
- Check with their health insurance to know more about their diabetes management coverage. According to a CDC survey during 2011-2012, more than half of the people diagnosed with diabetes did not attend diabetes self-management education and support classes (2014). Today, attendance to these classess continue to be a problem. Many people are not aware of their health care benefits and do not benefit from the education and support that emphasize lifestyle management. Another problem I have often faced is that many people are paying too much money for their testing supplies when they do not have their health insurance’s preferred meter.
- Get their loved ones involved in their care. No one should have to go through this diagnosis alone. Having the right support can be the catalyst to making healthier choices.
American Diabetes Association. (2017). Healthy ABCs. Retrieved from
Centers for Disease Control. (2014). Diabetes self-management education and training among privately insured persons with newly diagnosed diabetes — United States, 2011–2012.
Morbity and Mortality Weekly Report. 63(46); 1046-1049