Charlene Avery: Lessons from diabetes programs
"After more than a decade of intense attention to diabetes, including funding for new programs and services, what have we learned? We have learned the risk factors associated with diabetes; that diabetes is a costly yet controllable condition; and there can be serious consequences from not treating it. We have learned diabetes can be prevented with a low fat diet and 150 minutes of exercise each week. We have learned of our amazing capacity for gaining new knowledge and how effective diabetes research in Indian country can be. We have learned how to quickly align ourselves with one another to collaborate around diabetes and other health promotion programs. We have learned that diabetes spares no one; directly or indirectly, we are all affected.

We have been reminded of how formidable our people remain in the fight against diabetes. We have learned the value of motivational interviewing and the “old-is-new-again” concept of self-management. What is self-management? It consists of the knowledge one gathers about health, the decisions made based on this information, and the actions needed to care for oneself. It requires setting priorities and can involve difficult choices. It requires discipline and an action plan. Self-management involves reassessing one’s progress and having the flexibility to adjust and refine one’s choices. The freedom to build on success can make self-management fun and enriching.

Self-management skills can be learned and it’s never too late to begin learning. For some, it’s a relatively easy process developed through a lifestyle in which the individual works consistently to build their knowledge of health, nutrition and physical fitness.

For others, it takes more work to learn about health and wellness. We have all seen people for whom staying active and healthy seems to be effortless. For those who struggle with weight and other health concerns, it seems a never-ending challenge. Often we need the help of others to achieve or maintain our best health; others such as friends, family members, health professionals, or coaches."

Get the Story:
Charlene Avery: The lessons we’ve learned (Indian Country Today 11/16)