While we must also be seeking a cure and emphasizing prevention for this serious disease, the simple fact that diabetes affects or will affect more than 100 million Americans highlights the need for people with the disease to actively engage in their care and learn how to self-manage.

And people with diabetes can stay healthy! With hard work and behavior changes many of the common complications of diabetes, such as vascular issues and amputation, vision problems, kidney failure and stroke can often be prevented or delayed.

Today’s toolbox

As you will read in these words, more tools than ever are available for people with diabetes. Due to technological advances in blood glucose meters, insulin pumps, mobile apps and telehealth services, people with diabetes have a new and growing arsenal of tools.

"...it only works if people receive and participate in education."

But they need to understand why and how to use these tools. And that’s why the most important tool of all is diabetes self-management education (DSME). Exercise is important in managing blood glucose. But how do you maximize the benefits and how often is best for someone with diabetes?

Proper nutrition is even more complex. We all hear that carbs and sugars are bad, right? Well, it’s more a question of managing portions and engaging in healthy eating overall, rather than completely avoiding certain items.

Adding boots on the ground

Diabetes education ranges from the seemingly obvious health lessons, i.e. quitting smoking, to the infinitely more complex, such as how and when to self-administer insulin.

But it only works if people receive and participate in education. And that’s where the next fight comes in to play. The American Association of Diabetes Educators is advocating for passage of a federal bill, The Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act, which would expand the pool of those who can provide diabetes DSME through Medicare.

While Medicare covers DSME, there are many Medicare beneficiaries who can’t participate due to lack of access. This is particularly true in rural areas where access to major hospitals and medical centers is limited.

We urge readers to contact their representatives in Congress and voice their support for the Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act. Visit us online to make your voice heard. When the battle to stem the tide of diabetes is being actively fought on all fronts, we will begin to see a difference!