Diabetes Support Groups and Their Benefits

A support group is a gathering of individuals with similar life experiences who meet to encourage, share, listen, and guide one another through challenges (Hinkle, 2014, p. 92). The different types of support groups are maintenance groups, activity groups, self-help and special problem groups (Keltner & Steele, 2015, pp. 99-101). Each support group is uniquely geared towards needs of the members with some examples being groups for addicts, those with disease, and even groups for coping with loss. The philosophy of the support group is to establish an environment that instills hope, acceptance, self-worth, knowledge, and to encourage the expression of feelings, while patients work towards developing their methods for dealing with their issue (Keltner & Steele, 2015, p.

99).

The selected group for observation was for Diabetic mellitus patients. Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease that effects how the body processes sugar. There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 results from the bodies inability to produce enough insulin and Type 2 diabetes, the more prevalent type, results from the bodies inability to use the insulin available for the regulation of sugar (Diabetes Home: About Diabetes, 2017).

Gestational diabetes also can occur in pregnant women and usually resolves once the individual has given birth.

Signs and symptoms of diabetes include polyuria, polyphagia, and polydipsia, fatigue, weakness, slow healing wounds, recurring infections, tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, and vision changes (Hinkle, 2014, p. 1444). A blood glucose test will be completed to see what the patient’s sugar level is. A patient with diabetes will generally have an increased blood sugar level.

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Medication treatments may include various types of insulin therapy or oral antidiabetic medications and possibly a combination of both (Adams, Holland, & Urban, 2017, p. 766). These therapies will require patient education regarding how, when, and where to administer the injectable medications, as well as the proper storage and disposal of the drugs. The patient will be instructed on following a diabetic diet and how to monitor their blood sugar levels throughout the day. This monitoring will promote keeping the level within normal parameters. Exercise and weight control is also used to regulate blood sugar levels in the diabetic patient (Hinkle, 2014, pp. 1421-1426). Management of the disease can be difficult due to these many areas of required education and lifestyle changes.

The prognosis for the diabetic mellitus patient consists of a lifelong need for management of blood sugar levels once the diagnosis has been made. The patient is at an increased risk for complications like hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, macrovascular and microvascular complications, nephropathy, neuropathies, and foot and leg problems that may lead to amputations (About Diabetes, 2018). An ultimate complication of the disease is death. The poorer the management of blood sugar levels, the greater the risk for these complications.

According to the CDC, the estimated cost of diabetes in the U.S. was $245 billion in 2012 with the average spending of $7,900.00 per year for the diabetic patient (National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017 Estimates of Diabetes and Its Burden in the United States, 2017). This is a considerable amount of money and can have a significant impact on multiple aspects of the patient’s life.

The caregiver of an individual with diabetes mellitus will need to be educated on the same aspects of the disease as the patient. They will assist in diet management, medication storage and administration, and blood glucose monitoring (Adams, Holland, & Urban, 2017, pp. 769-771). Just like the patient, they need to be able to recognize signs and symptoms of distress and have the resources and knowledge to take steps towards normalizing levels, or knowledge of when to seek medical care. Some examples discussed for caregivers in the diabetes group were carrying a small 15-gram carbohydrate snack in case the patient experiences low blood sugar or having a Glucagon emergency shot available in the event of dangerously low blood sugar.

The support groups recovery process involves assessing the patient’s emotional state through sharing, listening, and targeting areas where improvement can be made (Adams, Holland, & Urban, 2017, p. 99). Education for ways to improve situations is based on what is shared amongst the group. The group provides support by sharing commonalities and by recognizing the achievements of the individuals (Keltner & Steele, 2015, p. 99). Community resources exist in local physicians’ offices, hospitals, and clinics regarding disease management, support groups, and even medical supplies. Other resources consist of online information from webpages like American Diabetes Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Dietetic Association, Great Diabetes Information, Diabetes Life, and Partnership for Prescription Assistance.

These above online resources mentioned were recommended by the RN who lead the support group that I was able to observe. The observation allowed me to see the impact of the disease on the affected individual in everyday life and not just in the clinical setting. The group allowed the patients to express their concerns and feelings about their disease, which were often accompanied by short stories. Through these voiced concerns, other members were able to ask their own questions regarding similar incidents. The RN then took the opportunity to educate the group on how they should respond to such incidents. One example was a short story regarding a dangerously low blood glucose level where paramedics were involved. The nurse took the opportunity to educate the entire group on blood glucose monitoring, signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia and having a small snack available that will assist in raising the blood sugar level. There were also discussions regarding the cost of testing supplies, where the nurse was able to direct them to resources for assistance. The members of the group did seem to take comfort in hearing stories from those with similar issues and concerns. The experience was like what was described in the books and lectures in that one person opening up encouraged others to do so.

Personally, I enjoyed the group observation. It reinforced not just the functions of the support group, but also the information learned from lecture regarding diabetes. I have family members who have diabetes and have been able to suggest they look into a group near them. I feel better prepared to recommend support groups to patients in the future.

 

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Diabetes Support Groups and Their Benefits. (2022, May 16). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/diabetes-support-groups-and-their-benefits/

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