When you have been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, you might feel like the disease controls you. But when you start taking small — but important — steps to manage your health, you may find that you start living a happier, more fulfilling life.
That’s what Ruth Goldstein has seen. Goldstein is Cheshire Medical Center’s Outpatient Registered Dietitian. She also leads a monthly diabetes support group and a four-part diabetes class at the hospital.
“We had a husband and wife come to the classes,” Goldstein recalls. “The wife had been newly diagnosed with diabetes and her husband had been diagnosed more than two decades ago. He started coming to the classes with his wife and learned how all the pieces come together and how self-care is so important. The class motivated him to pay attention to his own body in a way he had never before, and he saw dramatic positive changes in his life.”
“Self-care” for living with diabetes turns out to be much simpler than most people expect. The biggest steps are:
- Eating a healthy, consistent diet of plants, proteins, and carbohydrates that support your blood sugar
- Paying attention to how much you eat, such as buying a slice of pie rather than a whole pie, so you’re not tempted to eat more
- Being physically active (regular walks are great!)
- Checking your blood sugar
- Meeting regularly with your health care team
- Remembering to take your medicine
- Brushing and flossing daily
- Checking your feet daily
- Asking for help when you feel overwhelmed
- Taking steps to reduce stress in your life
How to get help with self-care
When these self-care steps feel tricky or out of reach, the staff at Cheshire Medical Center and area organizations are here to help you.
- To get more physical activity: Ask about Activity is Good Medicine, a program offered in partnership with the Keene Family YMCA. This reduced cost program is for people who want to add regular exercise to their lives and can be “prescribed” by your physician at Cheshire. Not only do participants have access to the Y’s equipment and facilities, but they also get one-on-one advice from exercise coaches who can help them design an exercise program just right for them.
- To get one-on-one support: The collaborative care nurses at Cheshire Medical Center stay in contact with people with a diagnosis of diabetes or prediabetes. They serve as “lifestyle coaches,” says Lori Guyette, a Cheshire collaborative care nurse. They can find solutions to help you when you’re struggling to manage diabetes. For example, if you have arthritis, being physically active can seem daunting. The nurses can help you figure out solutions that will work for you.
This one-on-one support can help you get into healthy routines so you stay on top of your diabetes. “If you’re not actively engaged in managing your health, your diabetes can quickly get out of control,” says Guyette.
- To get help with logistics, such as transportation or medication costs: Your collaborative care nurse can connect to the Center for Population Health. These staff members can help you get transportation to the gym, support groups, or other forms of self-care. They can also help in paying for medication.
If you don’t already have the contact information for your collaborative care nurse at Cheshire, call (603) 354-5400, and ask the operator to connect you to your primary care team’s collaborative care nurse.
Support groups give you solutions and community
The Talkin’ Diabetes Support Group with Ruth Goldstein meets every second Thursday of the month, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Auditorium A, just down the hallway from Cheshire’s main lobby. For questions, email email@example.com.
The support group gives you a chance to ask questions, share information, and walk away with new tools and coping strategies. For example, “in the support group, you might learn tips from your peers on how to make it through holiday parties or weddings and how do you balance hors-d’oeuvres with dessert later,” says Guyette.
Ruth Goldstein also leads the Healthy Living With Diabetes educational series every few months. This four-part workshop includes presentations from Goldstein on nutrition, as well as guest speakers about diabetes physiology, medications, exercise, and self-care tools and stress management.
The next Healthy Living with Diabetes class begins on March 10, 2020. The series will also be offered in May, September, and November. The classes meet in the Centering Room of the Nurse Clinic on floor 1A. To sign up for a free Healthy Living with Diabetes class series contact (603) 354-5460.