Diabetes is an epidemic. Nearly one fourth of the United States population is either already diagnosed with diabetes, or have prediabetes or Syndrome X. Two out of three Type 2 diabetics don’t have their blood sugar level under control even while taking medications. Almost no symptoms are seen in the first couple of years of the disease. When complications set in, it is even harder to control blood sugar levels, and do what is necessary to remain healthy.
Most diabetics don’t check blood levels regularly after the first six months after a diagnosis. Many more are not following healthy diet plans or getting the exercise they need. Most patients diagnosed with prediabetes, or those diagnosed with the disease find their levels are not controlled when they have a yearly check up. Only when they find themselves on several medications for insulin sensitivity and insulin do they realize how important it was for them to exercise and eat healthy.
Despite all the warnings considering potentially life-threatening problems because of diabetes, most Type 2 diabetics are resigned to the disease and are not controlling it. The medical community is concerned about the response they receive from diabetics who are not controlling the disease. They wonder what it will take to make them “wake up and smell the coffee.”
Physical, emotional, and behavioral problems that put people more at risk for diabetes. The profiles of patients with Type 2 diabetes includes excess fat around the middle, poor self-esteem, chronic stress, negative emotions, and unhealthy lifestyles. If the patient hasn’t taken care of their body in the past, it is hard to stress the importance of doing so after a diabetes diagnosis. Self-care is not one of the priorities for them. Most are focused on pleasing others and refuse to put themselves first. Some don’t care enough about themselves enough to work on controlling their diabetes despite the fear of life threatening complications. It is easier for them to go into denial or just resign themselves to the disease than to make the effort to take control of it. Is fear the answer? Fear seems to drive people more toward anger, resentment, and denial.
If they start on the path to a healthier lifestyle, often they don’t stick with it because they don’t have the support they need. If they have had trouble keeping their blood sugar levels under control, they get discouraged, that leads to acceptance of the disease, and they quit working on controlling it.
The best approach is a gradual change in lifestyles. Behavioral changes are important for the newly diagnosed diabetic to succeed in controlling their disease. It doesn’t always have to be drastic or strict. It can be a gradual change in eating healthier meals, consuming less refined sugar, exercising, and getting more sleep. The goal is to enable the patient to make choices that are healthy, fun, and personally motivating. A support structure needs to be in place to encourage and recognize successes for the diabetic.
The bottom line is, the person has to want better health. You can’t force good health on anyone. Those that already have diabetes or predisposed to the disease are struggling with other symptoms of low self-esteem. With a group of supporters that understands their issues and gives them better ways of taking care of their health, may be all that is needed to help them take care of themselves before it is too late.