Before you start clicking, check out a diabetes educator’s best tips for bookmarking the right sources of information on managing your condition
The adage “Knowledge is power” certainly holds true if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes. That’s because this complex condition requires a lot of self-care.
“I often say that 99 percent of a person’s diabetes regimen is self-management. It’s not just taking a pill. It’s following steps to lead a healthy lifestyle,”says Karen Kemmis, DPT, MS, GCS, CDE, FAADE, a spokesperson for the American Association of Diabetes Educators and a certified diabetes educator at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y. Fortunately, you’re not on a time clock: “No one expects you to learn everything at once,” she adds.
Spend a little time each week getting to know more about diabetes and you’ll gradually build your understanding of how to best manage your health and make those positive, lifelong behavior changes. Here’s where Kemmis suggests you begin to ensure that the info you get is reliable and based upon solid research.
Medical and government organizations: Look for reputable websites sponsored by the federal or a state government, university medical centers, and not-for-profit health or medical organizations. These sites have web addresses ending with .gov, .edu, and .org, respectively. Kemmis says that after any materials provided by your health-care team, these sites should be your next stop as an ongoing source of credible information. To learn a little more about the groups and experts behind these (or any) websites, check out the About Us section on the home page. If you’re not sure, ask your health-care team if they find the site to be reliable.
A few sites Kemmis recommends bookmarking are the American Diabetes Association the American Association of Diabetes Educators, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, and the National Diabetes Education Program. Choose a topic and read a page or two every few days. Remember that medical and health information changes frequently, so look to see when the article you’re reading was published or updated.
Online diabetes classes: Many organizations offer computer-based instruction so you can learn in the comfort of your own home. Joslin Diabetes Center, for example, provides free interactive online courses on diabetes basics, medications, blood glucose monitoring, and more. Also look for local in-person instruction at universities, hospitals, and diabetes centers. National organizations like those listed above can help you find diabetes education resources and support groups in your community.
Certified professionals: Diabetes is a complex condition, so you’ll need ongoing support in addition to checkups with your health-care team and beyond the knowledge gained from your online research. Plus, it can be easier to understand complicated material if you’re face-to-face with someone who can help you find strategies that make sense for you. For instance, says Kemmis, if you love Italian food, they’ll help you learn how to enjoy pasta as part of your meal plan.