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Diabetes is a chronic condition requiring daily management. It can become burdensome mentally, physically, socially, and financially. A diabetes diagnosis can feel lonely and isolating, especially in the beginning stages.

It’s important to know that wherever you are in your diabetes journey, you are never alone. In addition to your medical team, loved ones, and friends, there are numerous diabetes support groups available.

This article will help you to learn more about where to find support groups, both online and in person. It details the importance of peer support, resourceful apps, and additional resources.

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Where to Find Diabetes Support Groups

Peers bring experience, resources, and realistic advice that your healthcare provider may not be able to share.

In a joint report, the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists (ADCES), and the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AAND) acknowledge the importance of ongoing support.

That support comes from your primary healthcare team, but also family and friends, specialized home services, and community. A small yet growing body of evidence demonstrates the value of peer support on clinical and behavioral outcomes in diabetes.

You can find support groups, both online and in-person. Additionally, many professional organizations have forums, mentor programs, and other ways to get involved in diabetes.

On-line

Online peer support communities have become increasingly popular. Getting involved in these groups offers benefits alongside treatment. You can learn more about diabetes and connect with people engaged in ongoing diabetes peer support.

Blogs, podcasts, social media, and online platforms can all serve as useful sources. Many people with diabetes, some of them educators, write blogs or host podcasts. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, and Pinterest give people an opportunity to engage with one another and share ideas and information. Several support groups have interactive discussion boards.

You can search the internet for key phrases like:

  • Diabetes support groups
  • PWD (people with diabetes support groups)
  • The Type 2 Experience: Facebook group
  • Hashtags that can bring you to social media groups: #DOC, #T1D, #T2D, #DSMA, #DIABETES, #peersupport, #type1diabetes, #type2diabetes, #wearenotwaiting, #nightscout
  • American Diabetes Association: Diabetes Support Directory
  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)
  • Beyondtype1.org and beyondtype2.org, specific sites that connect you directly to people with diabetes and community table conversations

Other websites, which contain global forums and support communities, include:

  • t1dexchange.org
  • t1dregistry.org
  • tudiabetes.org
  • diabetesdaily.com
  • diatribe.org
  • diabulimiahelpline.org
  • diabetesteam.com
  • childrenwithdiabetes.com
  • collegediabetesnetwork.org
  • wearediabetes.org
  • idocricouncil.com
  • Peersforprogress.org
  • diabetessisters.org
  • tcoyd.org

Sometimes it can be unclear as to which online sources are credible, reliable, and factual. When using online information from peers, it’s wise not to use it as medical advice. If you are uncertain or feel skeptical about whether the information is valid, discuss it with your medical team.

In person

In the past, healthcare providers and diabetes educators worked with people in groups. This served as an especially useful platform for learning, socializing, and connecting people. Unfortunately, in-person groups became scarce during the COVID-19 pandemic due to safety precautions.

It never hurts to ask your healthcare provider if they’re restarting, especially as activities in more communities reopen. They may also consider starting groups via telehealth or telemedicine.

You can also search for programs in your community such as healthy cooking classes, walking groups, faith-based groups, and more. Consider checking your local newsletter, library, or community center for ideas.

Benefits of Diabetes Support Groups

Diabetes is difficult because there are so many layers to treatment. Many people with diabetes face barriers to treatment. These barriers can include:

  • cost
  • timing
  • Transportation
  • Medical issues
  • cultural factors
  • Lack of family support
  • A preference for keeping diabetes private

Diabetes support groups can provide people with information and emotional support that is consistent, compassionate, and nonjudgmental.

Some people may be uncomfortable and don’t want to actively participate. They just listen instead. Studies have shown that this type of information-seeking is still productive. People get the benefits of information while learning that they are not alone, simply by reading content from others.

Peer Support for Diabetes

Peer support is a community. It’s a partnership that helps people with diabetes feel understood and provides them with information they may not otherwise be able to access. For example, many people with diabetes don’t always understand the services for which they are eligible.

If you’re currently struggling with obstacles, the peers who have overcome them can help to provide you with valuable advice. This can help you to navigate situations with less stress and anxiety. Peers also may be able to provide you with recommendations for products, technology, doctors, and more.

Research suggests that peer support leads to feelings of empowerment, improvement in self-care, healthier eating, and reading food labels. The value of peer support in lowering hemoglobin A1c, weight, and blood pressure is mixed, yet there seems to be a benefit in some minority populations.

Despite the benefits, peer support is underutilized. It’s likely that health professionals will continue to advocate and research peer support so that it is more accessible and readily available for people living with diabetes.

Keep in mind that while peer support is beneficial, it is not a substitute for medical advice from trained professionals.

Apps to Download for Diabetes Help

Apps are easy and convenient sources of information. They can be accessed anytime and anywhere.

According to researchers, in the iTunes App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android, diabetes is one of the top-ranked categories, with more than 1100 different apps available for download.

Due to both the enormous supply of apps and the complexity of diabetes, this makes choosing a complicated task. Some apps are meant for healthcare providers. Others are designed to help people calculate their insulin doses, carbohydrates, and blood sugars.

If you are looking for some emotional or behavioral support from your peers, there are specific communication apps. Some of the apps that can connect you to peers with diabetes, as well as forums, communities, and websites, include:

  • Beyond Type 1
  • one drop
  • HelpAround
  • WeAreMore

Additional Resources

Community based fundraisers and events can be another way to get involved and connect with community members. Organizations such as the American Diabetes Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and The Betes Foundation are just a few to offer ways you can gather information and take steps to better your health.

Non-profit diabetes organizations are also great resources. You can find an enormous amount of information on all topics related to diabetes from places such as:

  • ADCES: Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists
  • ADA: American Diabetes Association
  • DLC: Diabetes Leadership Council
  • DPAC: Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition
  • JDRF: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Summary

Diabetes is a chronic disease that requires daily self-management. Diabetes support groups can help serve as an invaluable resource for people with diabetes.

Peer support groups are readily available both in person and online. You can tap into the resources and relationships through websites and on social media. You also may want to connect with people and groups in your community.

Keep in mind that peer support groups are not meant to be used as a substitute for medical advice. Be sure to contact your healthcare provider with any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Besides support groups, what else can I do to manage diabetes?

    All people with diabetes should receive Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) and Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) for management and support. If these terminologies are new to you, discuss it with your medical team. You can also call your insurance company to determine accredited programs and practitioners in your community.

  • Can you find diabetes support groups with people your age?

    Different online forums, groups, podcasts, and communities serve specific age groups. For example, the JDRF focuses primarily on children.

  • Do diabetes support groups cost money?

    In-person support groups may require a co-pay, depending on how they are set up and who is running them. Many online support groups are available to people with diabetes at no cost. Some apps and programs require a small monthly fee.

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