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Helping Those Newly Diagnosed With Type 2 Diabetes

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The American Diabetes Association understands a person who is newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may initially feel upset and confused. “Many feel overwhelmed and scared, and some feel guilty,” said Jennifer Sheen Puryear, the director of Youth and New Patient Initiatives for the Association. “We want to be there, at the moment of diagnosis to let them know we’re here to help.”

In 2009, in an effort to improve its outreach to patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the Association surveyed people living with diabetes, caregivers and health care providers about what they need.

People living with type 2 diabetes responded that when first diagnosed, they wanted educational materials directly from their health care provider. “They want to leave the doctor’s office with something in hand that they can read,” Puryear said.

Survey responses laid the foundation for developing the Living With Type 2 Diabetes Program, which launched in 2010. Rather than overwhelm a person with so much information at first, the material is provided in five packets over the course of a person’s first year living with type 2 diabetes. “This is a lifelong disease, and we want to help people adjust to these lifestyle changes.” Puryear said.

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Upon diagnosis, a health practitioner should give the patient the American Diabetes Association’s introductory booklet Where Do I Begin?; then the patient can enroll in the program online at Diabetes.org/indiancountry, by mail or by calling 1-800-DIABETES (342-2383). The program also sends participants a monthly e-newsletter with new recipes, seasonal tips and stories of others living with diabetes. They can also find support through the online communities and locally.

The five packets participants receive throughout the year focus on different topics. The first month’s packet includes information about food and nutrition. Month 3 focuses on taking care of your emotional health, while Month 6 provides information and resources for physical activity. Month 9 discusses how to prevent diabetes complications, and the final packet encourages people to stay on track. “Every day is a new day with diabetes. Some will be good, some won’t be as good, but the important thing is to keep trying,” Puryear said.