Would you know how to look after a family member with diabetes? That's one of the questions being posed as part of World Diabetes Day 2018. This year's theme is about helping families prevent, spot and manage the condition, which is more prevalent among the elderly. On the 13th November, our local group supporting people living with diabetes in Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells will welcome a specialist diabetes podiatrist talk about 'Putting Feet First – Looking After Your Feet'
World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation [https://www.idf.org/] and the World Health Organisation [http://www.who.int/] and takes place on the 14th November each year. It celebrates the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, the co-discoverer of insulin to raise awareness of diabetes, to educate people to help them prevent and manage the condition successfully.
World Diabetes Day 2018
The key message of #WDD2018 is that diabetes concerns every family. There will be information available to help families understand the impact of the condition and help their loved ones manage it well - and answering questions such as:
- Could you prevent Type 2 diabetes in your family?
- Could you spot the warning signs?
- Would you know how to look after a family member with diabetes?
Information on each of these is available to download here [https://www.worlddiabetesday.org/resources/infographics.html]
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a serious condition where your blood glucose level is too high. We all need some glucose which give us energy. We get glucose when our bodies break down the carbohydrates that we eat or drink and releases glucose into our blood. In a healthy person we produce the hormone insulin that is the key to let glucose enter our cells and fuel our bodies.
There are two main types of diabetes type 1 and type 2, both of which are serious. When you've got Type 1 diabetes, you can't make any insulin at all. If you've got Type 2 diabetes, it's a bit different. The insulin you make either can't work effectively, or you can't produce enough of it.
In both types of diabetes, because glucose can't get into your cells, it begins to build up in your blood and too much glucose in your blood causes a lot of different problems.
In the UK 3.7 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes of which 90% have type 2. Another 12.3 million are at an increased risk of developing type 2. Being overweight, living a sedentary life style and a poor diet are some of the factors that increase the risk of developing the condition.
Why is diabetes a concern?
A recent analysis by Diabetes UK has shown that 500 people living with diabetes die prematurely each week in England and Wales. There can be devastating complications involved with diabetes, such as sight loss, kidney disease, stroke, heart disease and amputations – with The House of Commons Library reporting that there are 120 foot or toe diabetes-related amputations each week. This is why it is important for you to manage your own diabetes or help a loved one to manage their condition effectively.
Caring for yourself or your loved one
The prevalence of diabetes rises with age and is more common in men than in women. However, it is important to understand that the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes can be reduced. Simple lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise and following a balanced diet, can go a long way to improve not only your general health, but reducing your chances of getting the condition.
Diabetes UK [https://www.diabetes.org.uk/] provides some excellent resources to help people who live with the condition to understand and manage it. Their goals are to find better treatment for the disease and ultimately, a cure.
The latest Diabetes UK research project led by Professors Roy Taylor and Mike Lean with patients following a very low-calorie diet over a 12-week period has shown some exciting results. The study [https://www.diabetes.org.uk/research/research-round-up/research-spotlight/research-spotlight-low-calorie-liquid-diet] found that almost half of the people who took part in the diet and weight management programme which was administered by their GP put their diabetes into remission.
How you can get support
It is important to reach out and talk to someone; dealing with diabetes can be difficult, but help can be found in many places:
- Diabetes UK offer a helpline on 0345 123 2399 for anyone who has diabetes, their family or friends, and for people worried they may be at risk.
Our director, Kieron Brennan, is chairman of the Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks branch of Diabetes UK, a voluntary group that supports those in the area living with the condition and their relatives to manage it effectively. This local group arranges meetings that are free to attend and open to everyone, recently covering topics such as:
- Eye health with Dr Deacon Harle, a Fellow of the College of Optometrist.
- Changes to how local diabetes care is being delivered with Dr Masud Haq, Clinical Lead in Diabetes and Endocrinology, and Julia Azile, diabetes Specialist Nurse from Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.
On the 13th November, the day before World Diabetes Day, the Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks branch of Diabetes UK will welcome Sarah Watts, Specialist Diabetes Podiatrist from the Kent Community NHS Trust, to talk to us about "Putting Feet First: looking after your feet". Anyone who is interested is welcome to join us.
Kieron has shared his expertise in the field with the All About Home Care carers, so they can also deliver the right support for our elderly home care clients in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks who have diabetes to keep the condition under control.
It is possible to live well with diabetes. Showing support can go a long way to make people feel better about their condition, and simple lifestyle changes can help to reduce the effects of Type 2 diabetes. Remember there is always someone to talk to.