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Building a diabetes-resilient Philippines in 2022 |

Health And Family

Building a diabetes-resilient Philippines in 2022

MY TURN - Dr. Kenneth Lee - The Philippine Star

According to recent data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), diabetes stands as the fifth major cause of death in the Philippines. With more than four million Filipinos living with diabetes, experts worry that movement restrictions enacted to curb the transmission of COVID-19 will only complicate the management of their conditions.

Living with diabetes can be challenging, as it requires ongoing medical attention. Improper management can lead to frequent infections due to compromised immunity, heart and kidney disease, and the presence of high glucose levels — a condition called hyperglycemia.

Holistic diabetes care requires proactive interventions in managing the condition and delaying complications, also reducing healthcare expenses. For patients living with diabetes, making significant lifestyle changes is far from easy, especially when measured nutritional and physical activity regimens are added to their everyday lives. However, as these measures help keep one’s glucose levels under control, Filipinos living with diabetes must cultivate resilient behaviors to enjoy a better quality of life.

On living with diabetes

The Resilience and Diabetes (RAD) Behavioral Research Lab at the Baylor College of Medicine defines diabetes resilience as “the achievement of optimal diabetes outcomes despite the challenges of living with and managing diabetes.” Optimal diabetes outcomes for patients opens the possibility to enjoy the best quality of life by engaging in positive diabetes management behaviors that help them meet glycemic targets.

Living with diabetes can be mentally and emotionally taxing. Practicing diabetes resilience is important because it helps improve a patient’s coping skills and reduces the stress and anxiety that could set in when living with the condition.

Building diabetes resilience entails harnessing one’s individual strengths, external assets and support systems. Aside from patients adopting a positive and hopeful outlook, social support from family members is important in helping one living with diabetes cope with the disease and improve adherence to treatment.

Several studies have shown that an increase in support is associated with a decrease in emotional distress.

Technologies employed in Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) systems like the Abbott FreeStyle Libre can help people with diabetes build resilience by making glucose monitoring easy. Thanks to accurate and real-time glucose data, Filipinos living with diabetes can get back control in managing their health — helping them create ideal and personalized diet plans, fitness routines, and achieve glucose targets.

As diabetes management involves ongoing medical attention, consultations with medical professionals beyond the fields of endocrinology can help build diabetes-resilient behaviors. Studies have shown that diabetes patients can overcome barriers associated with self-care by regularly seeing a psychologist to help address anger, depression, and other psychosocial issues they may face while managing their conditions.

Medical assistance and intervention coupled with technology play a key role in ensuring optimal care that transcends distance. Aside from telemedicine, Abbott LibreView, a cloud-based diabetes management system that gives healthcare professionals and patients reports from the FreeStyle Libre System, can help healthcare providers make more informed decisions on a patient’s health and treatment. This technology also ensures remote management of one’s diabetes, which is useful given the current pandemic context.

Making 2022 stronger for Filipinos with diabetes

As 2022 continues to be a year of pandemic-driven uncertainty, it is important for Filipinos living with diabetes to stay strong through physical, mental and emotional support. Caregivers, whether they are their parents, siblings or children, will play vital roles in helping those with diabetes to be stronger and more resilient in 2022. Caregivers can inspire their loved ones by transforming exercise and food into teambuilding exercises and encouraging them with their progress. These “small actions” can yield great results in building better diabetes resilience even amid the pandemic.

Together with CGM technology, through unstinting support, we can help our loved ones with diabetes build the resilience they need to overcome the barriers to enjoying the best possible quality of life.

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Dr. Kenneth Lee is the Medical Affairs head for Asia Pacific, Abbott’s diabetes care business.

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