By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
SINCE there is still no cure for diabetes, those diagnosed must consider an overhaul in lifestyle practices to ensure proper management and control of the condition.
Regrettably, many people struggle with making those lifestyle changes, which can quickly become overwhelming to execute on a consistent basis. Additionally, some people living with diabetes do not have enough information how they can live well and thrive with diabetes.
To remedy this widespread problem seen in a great deal of diabetics locally, ACE Diabetes has launched the free “5 to Thrive” course on living well the diabetes.
The five-week course kicked off yesterday under the primary instruction of Nurse Anita Cates, a certified diabetes educator and diabetes lifestyle coach. It is being offered for free through collaboration with, and sponsorship from BAF and Cash N’ Go, who said they understand and recognise the crisis that diabetes presents in the Bahamas. An endocrinologist will also offer expertise during the course.
Nurse Cates,has always had a burning passion to help people, particularly in the area of diabetes. Through this collaboration, all stakeholders aim to make a real impact for real people living with diabetes.
“ ‘5 to Thrive” is specifically geared to those who have been diagnosed with type 1, type 2 and pre-diabetes. The course aims to motivate and empower people to take charge of their diabetes. The course will be offered twice annually. It is expected to be held at the end of the year,” said Nurse Cates.
Two sessions will take place online via Zoom and three sessions will take place in person at BAF Financial Headquarters.
“Managing diabetes is no small task, but each step taken towards healthy management and self care makes a big difference. This course gives the participants practical and informative strategies to make living with diabetes easier,” Nurse Cates told Tribune Health.
The “5 to Thrive” curriculum is based on the seven key areas of care and education by the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists. These keys areas include healthy coping, healthy eating, being active, taking medication, monitoring, problem-solving and reducing risks.
“The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in 2020 stated that the total adult population in the Bahamas was 286,900 and that the prevalence of diabetes in adults locally is 9.4 percent. Therefore, 26,900 are known to have a diagnosis of diabetes in the Bahamas,” said Nurse Cates.
“Unmanaged diabetes is a burden to individuals, families, companies and the government. The cost of being unwell with diabetes is vast as it negatively affects persons quality of life, increases the rates early death, increases co-morbidity's such as amputations, heart disease and kidney disease.”
Nurse Cates believes this new course will help provide participants with the necessary information to thrive while living with diabetes.
“Diabetes is a life-long condition that can affect all areas of a person's life. Living a healthy life with diabetes requires changes in diet, exercise, taking medication and focusing more on health and wellbeing. For many people these changes are overwhelming and people, although they know that their behaviors must change, do not know how to change. When a person receives a diagnosis of diabetes they can experience a wide range of emotions from guilt to anger and indifference to embarrassment. Support from others with diabetes and caring healthcare professionals is vital in living well with diabetes,” she said.
Some of the common challenges, Nurse Cates said people with diabetes face is definitely internet information overload, misinformation and lack of support.
She said internet information adds to the struggle of living well with diabetes. With so many opinions on the web and different methods of achieving one goal it becomes difficult deciphering what information to use and what to throw away.
“Different people and sites offer their different ideas and opinions on what works best in diabetes. These ideas usually are conflicting and people experience information overload not knowing what would work for them. People with diabetes and pre-diabetes ideally should work alongside qualified diabetes educational specialists who can work with them to enabling to discover what works for that individual. Everyone is different and will require a different path to care,” she said.
“Misinformation continues to add to the burden of diabetes. Many friends and family members share information from a well meaning perspective, mostly this information is incorrect and can cause more harm than good.”
Another hurdle to living well with the condition is overcoming the shame and embarrassment of a diagnosis.
“Sadly, diabetes can often be seen as a shameful condition, 'something that should be hidden’, and many people with the condition choose not to let anyone know. However, choosing to share your diagnosis with the right people boosts esteem, motivation and confidence. Which improves diabetes self-care and management,” said Nurse Cates.
ACE Diabetes said it is committed to providing free research-based education though the "5 to Thrive" course and the free monthly "Zoom in in Diabetes" sessions.
“5 to Thrive” and “Zoom in on Diabetes” bridge the educational gap on diabetes, she said, by providing research-based education and meaningful support which aims to decrease the burden of living with diabetes and encourages that you can thrive with diabetes.
“ACE Diabetes’s cause is vital to the health and well-being of individuals, families and the country as a whole. Pre-Diabetes and type 2 diabetes can be prevented. And for those with established diabetes, it can be managed well, preventing the damaging and harmful effects of high blood glucose. For those who already are suffering the ill effects of unmanaged diabetes, there is still hope as the worsening of these conditions can be prevented too,” she said.
The next “Zoom in on Diabetes” will be held at the end of the month. It is a monthly online education group which is open to everyone interested in learning more about managing and preventing type 2 diabetes.