July 17, 2007 > Washington Hospital Offers Morning, Evening Diabetes Support Group Meetings
Washington Hospital Offers Morning, Evening Diabetes Support Group Meetings
You Are Not Alone
There is no quick fix for diabetes. Once diagnosed, the disease requires vigilant self-management and regular supervision by your physician. But is that the entire story? Not quite. There is another less recognized but key element to diabetes management success, according to Washington Hospital's Director of Diabetes Services Theresa Garnero.
Success with diabetes has a lot to do with receiving and giving social support, she says.
"Studies have shown that 'groupies' have lower glucose levels," than those who don't attend support group meetings, Garnero says. "People who attend a support group have better A1C levels and achieve an overall minimization of complications from diabetes."
This is why Washington Hospital's Diabetes Services program has extended its Diabetes Support Group to include both morning and evening meetings. Garnero stresses that the meetings are fluid and participants change each time; new participants are invited to attend at any time.
The group meetings, she says, are meant to serve as a complement to the other services offered through Diabetes Services, including its educational counterpart series, Diabetes Matters. The evening support group meeting, which is held at 8 p.m., immediately follows the hour-long Diabetes Matters session, which begins at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month.
The new morning support group meetings are held the third Thursday of each month from 9 to 11 a.m.
"Having a social support network is a huge component of managing diabetes," Garnero explains. "You have to have the right mindset to manage diabetes successfully. Unless you feel the emotional connection and support of others and get the tools you need it's hard to do. The support group allows for people to get into in-depth conversations about what's happening in their lives and it offers a more freeform environment than a structured curriculum."
Garnero, who just finished writing a book for the American Diabetes Association, says her role, as facilitator at the group meetings, is to simply introduce the group and inform participants that everything mentioned during meetings is held in confidence.
"People go back and forth with whatever they want to talk about and I'm there to make sure what is being said is accurate," she says. "The meetings are a positive atmosphere. People do bring up issues about problems they might be having in relation to diabetes, but I try to keep the overall message positive. It's important to remember that the person dealing with the disease is the expert in how it affects their life. Some people who have learned how to manage their condition have passed along great ideas to others."
The support group meetings are not solely intended for those who have been diagnosed. According to Garnero, social support can be just as important to those who have been living with the condition for decades. Additionally, when meetings first began participants voted to open the group to family members to help them gain a greater understanding of issues their loved ones face in relation to diabetes.
"Some people might be in a pattern where they understand things fairly well and their self care is good or they may just come to a point where they're feeling challenged with it all," Garnero says. "We have people attending meetings who have just been diagnosed - but also someone who has had diabetes for 50 years. It's about having a sense of community. You're not alone and you can teach others lessons you have learned. It's a great environment for people to learn. This is a new resource for the community that wasn't there before."
According to the American Diabetes Association, there are 20.8 million children and adults in the United States living with diabetes. Almost one-third of them - approximately 6.2 million people - are unaware that they have diabetes. For those who are lucky enough to be diagnosed before serious medical complications arise, Garnero says, many of these still do not receive the proper information to better manage their condition.
"Now the support group meetings are available twice a month, giving people who have diabetes to connect and learn from each other," she says.
Washington Hospital's Diabetes Services program recently received accreditation from the American Diabetes Association, which recognizes the educational programs as meeting the National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education.
To find out more about Washington Hospital's Diabetes Services support group or other classes and programs, visit www.whhs.com, click on "Services & Programs," and select "Diabetes Services" from the drop-down menu or call (510) 745-6556 for more information.
Get the Support You Need
What: Diabetes Support Group
Evening meetings: First Thursday of each month, 7 to 9 p.m. (after Diabetes Matters)
Morning meetings: Third Thursday of each month, 9 to 11 a.m. Next meeting: July 19
Where: Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont
Call: (510) 608-1327 to register