HERC Publishing Blog

Your Goal as a Diabetes Patient Educator

Posted by Jeanie Sturgeon on Oct 28, 2019 11:30:00 AM

Type 2 Diabetes

As a patient education professional, you know Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that's affecting more adults, children and family members than ever before. Healthcare is all about helping people, and your role in patient education is a huge part of its success. At HERC Publishing, our goal is to provide you with the best Type 2 diabetes patient education materials in both English and Spanish. In short, we help provide staff with the right tools to prepare patients for lifelong diabetes management and blood sugar awareness.

In our modern age of technology and medical care, robust patient education is more important than ever before for healthcare professionals and patients. In an attempt to self-educate, it's all too easy for diabetes patients to access false information online. While carbohydrate counting and whole grain food choices help with long-term weight loss for those with Type 2 diabetes, there are other lifestyle changes needed to assist people with this disease.You are here to help patients navigate around the inaccurate information that can be found online.

Be sure to educate patients that not everything they read online is fact, or appropriate for that patient's particular goals.

Know Type 2 Diabetes & See it as a Growing Childhood Disease 

With Type 2 diabetes, the patient's body either resists the effects of insulin (the hormone which regulates the movement of sugar into cells) or doesn't produce enough insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels (blood sugar levels) without assistance. Type 2 diabetes was once quite rare in US children. However, it is a growing problem today, according to the American Diabetes Association.

As per the CDC, it affects individuals of all ethnic backgrounds and age brackets in our country, but people of certain races — including African American, Hispanic, American Indian and Asian-American people are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC):

  • About 30 million people in the US suffer from a form of diabetes, e.g., Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes.
  • At least 90% of them have Type 2 diabetes.
  • We suspect a link to the current childhood obesity epidemic.

We think the Mayo Clinic says it best: "Type 2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes, but today more children are diagnosed with the disorder, probably due to the rise in childhood obesity. There's no immediate cure for Type 2 diabetes, but losing weight, eating healthy foods and exercising can help manage the disease. If diet and exercise aren't enough to manage your blood sugar well, you may also need diabetes medications or insulin therapy."

Some patients may have Type 2 diabetes for years and not know it. Symptoms may appear gradually or not at all. They include:

  • A dramatic increase in thirst
  • Changes and increase in hunger
  • Increased weight
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • High blood pressure
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections
  • Darkened skin in the armpits and neck

Note that the disease may be inherited, but may also develop from habits created within a family regarding poor diet, lack of physical activity, unhealthy lifestyle changes and more risk factors. 

Why Patient Education Matters 

Diabetes patients need access to factual materials. Patients who understand their condition will require fewer doctor visits and experience fewer medical emergencies, according to the CDC. Furthermore, they'll save money, reduce the risk of infection (and secondary infections) and live a healthier life overall.

Proper diabetes management can also help patients avoid, or at least delay, other significant health issues known to stem from the condition like:

Stress is known to have marked effects on patients. With a thorough level of education, patients can learn the importance of stress management and develop personal tools they can use to manage the stress-diabetes connection.  

By educating your Type 2 diabetes patients, you will give them the knowledge they need to master self-care and keep their entire family healthier. By teaching them the symptoms, treatments and lifestyle habits they need to acquire, you allow them to pass diabetes prevention information on to their children and grandchildren. Type 2 diabetes patient education could help lessen  the problem for future generations!

Resources for Diabetes Educators

The first step in proper patient education is to know your audience. Diabetes patients come from all walks of life. Know the general demographics supported at your facility.

Note that Spanish is spoken by at least 37 million people in the US today, according to PEW Research. Spanish is by far the most popular language in our nation, after English. It's best to stock a variety of educational materials appropriate for both Spanish and English speakers.

Age and reading level matter too. Your patient education materials must be understandable. Both the text and the images need to be age-appropriate and easily understood.

Beyond the educational materials you keep on hand, here are more ideas to consider:

  • Find & join a diabetes education program in your area. 
  • Provide group learning opportunities for diabetes patients in a classroom or an online forum.
  • Create social media groups for your patients. Post accurate information for them to learn and communicate with each other about diabetes care.
  • Check out The Ultimate Guide to Diabetes Education Material Selection to learn how to select the best educational materials for your staff and patients.
  • Encourage patients to connect with a professional dietitian or nutrition specialist to promote healthy eating.
  • Offer access to physical activity opportunities. Consider simple activities like group walks or basic yoga classes.
  • Encourage a "buddy" system for workouts and diet management. These challenges can be easier to tackle with a friend.

The key takeaway here is that Type 2 diabetes management will be a lifelong process for your patients. Encourage them to find quality resources and activities outside of the hospital or doctor's office.

Request a Diabetes Sample Kit Today

HERC Publishing is recognized as one of the nation's top providers of patient education products. Our mission is to help you provide health professionals and diabetes patients with the information necessary to make healthier choices and to become active participants in their diabetes management

We're proud to say that our publications have been called "the diabetes bible" by patients. Our diabetes education booklets and tearpads cover several topics including:

  • Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
  • Diabetes Self-Management
  • Pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes
  • Monitoring blood sugar
  • Healthy meal planning
  • Physical activity guidelines
  • Healthy snack ideas
  • Weight loss
  • Portion control
  • Oral & Injectable medications
  • Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Ketoacidosis
  • Stress Management & Mental Health
  • Individual diabetes management goals for patients

Beyond educating patients and their families about the management of diabetes and blood sugar, our materials are meant to be kept and referenced often. Our booklets are sturdy, easily transported and easily understood. By keeping a reliable resource at hand, patients are better equipped to make the choices that will keep them out of the doctor's office or emergency room. Contact us today to learn more about Type 2 diabetes patient education.  

Topics: Diabetes Education, Patient Education Materials

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