It’s easy to focus on the numbers – they can be alarming. Diabetes is a costly disease – in fact, diabetes and pre-diabetes cost America $322 billion per year. Diabetes can damage blood vessels, the eyes and kidneys. It can result in poor wound healing and devastating soft tissue infections. Complications from diabetes include heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, hypoglycemia and more. Nearly 71,000 people die in the United States annually due to complications associated with diabetes.

Living with diabetes

Through a series of in-depth interviews, supplemented with quantitative data and expertise, we developed a series of member profiles on a number of conditions. Because, in order to better serve our members, we need to understand their unique needs and challenges.

The members that we interviewed described a number of challenges of living with diabetes day-to-day:

  • Checking blood sugar levels several times a day
  • Pricking their finger – especially with a fear of needles
  • Remembering to take medication
  • Trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle – which can mean avoiding the food they love

And all of these things can be tiring, cumbersome and take a lot of time. For members with multiple chronic conditions, often associated with diabetes, they may have to manage more medications, treatment guidelines and potential side effects.

Fearing long-term effects, a commitment to being healthier

Many of the members we interviewed had a family history of diabetes, so they witnessed firsthand the long-term effects of the disease. Things like more intensive treatment or other complications – including neuropathy, limb loss and developing other related conditions – can be major motivators to try to live a healthier lifestyle.

Feeling the effects of diabetes can be a jump-start to making lifestyle changes that could lead to a healthier diet and being more active. Members reported noticing welcomed changes when they focused on diet and exercise:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased energy
  • Positive changes in glucose levels
  • Adjustments in treatment (including fewer medications, less insulin injections, etc.)

For many of the members interviewed, diabetes felt overwhelming and like it consumed their entire lives. It’s something that they feel the effects of every single day – testing glucose levels, taking medicine, watching what they eat and trying to exercise. November is American Diabetes Month, but working to control diabetes is a year-round effort. Consider enlisting the help of a Disease Management nurse at your insurance company. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas has staff trained to help you control your diabetes and encourage you. Living with diabetes can be overwhelming, but we are here for you along the way. Learn more about our disease management programs.

Tiffany Liesmann, BCBSKS staff pharmacist

Sources: American Diabetes Association

 

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