Reporter Lorna Benson of Minnesota Public Radio is broadcasting a series on diabetes in Minnesota this week (you can listen to the first program here). The program contained three facts I wished everyone knew:
1)1 in 3 Minnesotans either have a diagnosis of diabetes or are have high blood sugar levels that put them at serious risk for developing diabetes.
2) The proportion of Minnesotans with diabetes has doubled in the past 10 years.
3) The average patient with type 2 diabetes needs about 2 and a half hours to manage their diabetes every day.
These facts suggest that if we don't know someone with diabetes, we soon will. Also, this someone (who may well be ourselves!) does not have an extra 2 1/2 hours in the day to manage their diabetes.
So how can we help ourselves and each other? Let's split the work. Families can work on establishing healthy behaviors that both prevent the development of diabetes and/or share the burden of managing diabetes at home. These healthy behaviors should include the entire family purchasing and eating healthier foods, finding ways to exercise together and sharing the burden of diabetes care (for example, family members taking turns picking up refills at the pharmacy, multiple family members attending office appointments, talking frankly about the emotional stress and/or worries of diabetes). I hear many patients who wish to remain healthy so they can continue to take care of their family. It is harder to think of a better reason to take care of yourself. However, I encourage patients to reach out to their families to talk about their diabetes to promote the health of the entire family.