Diabetes Support Groups: Your diabetes health care team composed of your primary physician, specialist, nurse, dietician and a counsellor is the team that you should maintain contact with. They will guide you on your medication, changes in your treatment program and your progress, but they rely on you to monitor your blood sugar levels and to ensure that your insulin shots are administered on schedule.
A supportive health care team is a blessing especially for diabetics who view their illness as a stressful never-ending experience; sometimes, however, one needs to reach out to others outside the clinical setting who are suffering from the same illness. This is where support groups outside of your principal health care team can provide additional support and guidance. A diabetic who is in the company of other diabetics feels more comfortable about sharing personal experiences; likewise, there are valuable lessons to be gained by listening to others speak of their experiences.
Support groups provide more than support: they create positive reinforcement and diminish the seriousness of diabetes especially when they talk about how diabetes has not affected their quality of life. They tell others that there is hope. The psychological benefits a diabetic derives from support groups are immeasurable.
Diabetes Support Groups: Where to Look
It is reassuring to know that diabetes is one of those illnesses that has a substantial number of support groups. Almost every state in the United States has an organization or two that can give out the names and numbers of diabetes support groups.
Here is a list (in no way a comprehensive list):
- Defeat Diabetes Foundation Inc – defeatdiabetes.org. Click on “self-management” under Action Resources and you get a listing of all 52 states. Clicking on one state yields the names and numbers of support groups. Let’s take the example of New York. It has over 50 support groups spread out in major cities. The same is true for other large states like Florida and California. You will have no problems looking for one near your home.
- Children with diabetes – childrenwithdiabetes.com/support/. If you have a child with diabetes and you want to connect with parents who have diabetic children, this is a web site that lists all support groups in 29 states of the United States, Canada, Colombia and South Africa. The link takes you to a page where the groups for the US are arranged by state (only 29 states are available); the ones for Canada are arranged by province. For instance, if you click on “MA” (Massachusetts), you can obtain the names and numbers of support groups for children with diabetes. In Massachusetts alone, there are six support groups for children and parents. There are three in Texas.
- Type II diabetes. This web site is specifically for type II patients and lists professional non-profit groups that provide more information and education about diabetes: http://www.diabetes.com/diabetes_info.html. These organizations are in Florida, Virginia, Illinois, Texas, Maryland and Georgia. They are not support groups per se but are medical organizations that have the latest information on type II diabetes, some of them staffed by doctors and specialists like endocrinologists and cardiologists.
- Insulin Pumpers – this is a more specific group of patients. Children and adults who are insulin pumpers will find support and information at: http://www.insulin-pumpers.org/. There are over 5,200 insulin pumpers discussion groups that you can join. They can be found in the US, UK, Scandinavian countries, New Zealand, Australia and Germany. You can also subscribe to the mailing list.