Health and Family Services Cabinet
Diabetes Caregivers Play an Important Role
Editor’s Note: During November, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services will issue articles related to diabetes to highlight the importance of American Diabetes Month. This is the first article in the series.
November is American Diabetes Month
Diabetes can be an extremely debilitating disease for those who suffer from it, requiring thorough and consistent disease management and education to maintain good health and quality of life.
“We’re reaching out to diabetes caregivers during American Diabetes Month because they are such an important link in improving quality of life for people living with diabetes and reducing health care costs for everyone,” said Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell. “With the right tools and knowledge, caregivers can help their loved one reduce the number of diabetes-related complications he or she experiences and live a long and healthy life.”
Many people living with diabetes, particularly children and the elderly, rely on caregivers to help them manage the disease. Often, this role presents many challenges.
“Caring for someone with diabetes is an extremely important role,” said William Hacker, M.D., CHFS’ undersecretary for health and public health commissioner. “For many, particularly those who are new caregivers, the task can seem overwhelming. We want to help you find the resources and support needed so you can properly care for your loved one.”
For new diabetes caregivers, it is important to identify helpful resources that provide knowledge and insight about diabetes. Such resources could include your health care provider or local health department.
Counseling services or support groups also can be helpful in dealing with the emotional impact of having a loved one diagnosed with diabetes.
“We want to help all our caregivers find resources to get the information they need,” said Linda Leber, education coordinator for the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program in the Department for Public Health (DPH). “Don’t be afraid to ask questions when talking to your loved one’s health care provider and seek out other sources of information.”
DPH recommends all caregivers familiarize themselves with literature as well as useful Web sites that help keep them up-to-date on diabetes-related news such as medication, nutrition and lifestyle habits that can help better manage diabetes. Some helpful resources could include:
· Local Health Department – ask for educational materials on diabetes, or where to go for diabetes self-management training or support groups for the person with diabetes and the caregiver.
· Local health care provider such as a physician, nurse practitioner, diabetes educator or physician assistant.
· Web sites such as the American Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.org, or DPH, http://www.chfs.ky.gov/dph/ach/cd/diabetes.htm, are extremely helpful.
Governor Ernie Fletcher, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the General Assembly have worked diligently to improve care and services for people living with diabetes, as well as diabetes caregivers. During the 2006 General Assembly, Rep. Jimmie Lee secured funding for three Diabetes Centers of Excellence, which target the Medicaid population to provide a better system of care and disease management. Governor Fletcher added more funding to create a total of six Diabetes Centers of Excellence.
In addition, the Department for Medicaid Services has been in engaged in outreach to promote better disease management for people with diabetes. At this time, 214 people are enrolled in the program.
Caregivers, people living with diabetes and those at risk for developing diabetes are encouraged to join Get Healthy Kentucky, a statewide wellness initiative that promotes physical activity, healthy eating and tobacco prevention and cessation. To learn more about this program and how to apply Get Healthy’s wellness model to your personal lifestyle, visit www.gethealthy.ky.gov.
“We know you want to do the best job possible caring for your family and loved ones,” said Leber. “That’s why it’s important to remember that the best caregivers are the ones who are most informed.”
For more information, contact Leber at the Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program at (502) 564-7996.