- The CDC predicts that by 2050 one out of three Americans will be diagnosed diabetic.
- Currently, two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.
- According to the CDC, there are 800 organizations working to fight diabetes.
Diabetes is a huge health problem plaguing the U.S. The above statistics speak volumes about the severity of this issue and its future growth if not controlled.
As community pharmacists you are looked to for health advice and guidance. Therefore, if there’s not an organization already working in your community, it may fall to you to educate your community on diabetes and healthy lifestyle changes.
There are three areas to educate your overweight, pre-diabetic, and diabetic patients: diet, exercise, and adherence.
Grocery Tours/Nutrition Classes
Partnering with your local grocery store or a nutritionist could be the key to educating your pharmacy patients on a healthy diet. Many people don’t know what a healthy, balanced diet consists of. Sure, they have basic idea that fruits and vegetables are good for them, but why are whole grains better for them? Why should they choose this cereal over that one? Why should they limit carbohydrates and what foods are high in them?
Taking patients to a grocery store or having a professional talk to them about what foods they should be buying and what alternatives they have to unhealthy foods, is an excellent way to start them down the right path to a healthy diet.
In addition to telling your patients what foods they should be eating, you could teach them how to cook healthy foods in appetizing ways and make healthy dishes for their whole family. If you suggest substituting Brussels sprouts for macaroni and cheese, but they don’t know how to prepare them in a palatable manner, they may try the Brussels sprouts, not like them, and return to less healthy options.
So put together some recipes, gather community members, and demonstrate prepping and cooking healthy meals that patients can prepare for themselves and their families. Let them taste the food, to get ideas of which options they like. If you have enough space and resources to let them get in and get their hands dirty, that’s even better!
If you're in need of some healthy meal inspiration, Pinterest is a great resource.
This might be a bit ambitious, but if you (or another staff member) have a knack for event planning this might be something you can pull off. Get the entire community involved, make t-shirts, and encourage all your able-bodied pharmacy patients to participate. You can donate proceeds to funding diabetes programs or use it to put back into your own diabetes education programs. This is an excellent way to advertise your programs to your community.
You obviously can’t force patients to be active, but you can offer incentives for those that do: coupons, free classes (if they're not already free), etc. Also, emphasize the fact that running is not required. Maybe even have members of your pharmacy team that plan on walking to encourage others.
Taking on a 5k race may be a little too ambitious of a feat to add to your already towering workload. Instead, organize days at the park where everyone can bring their entire family, a weekly game of kickball, or even a class at your local gym just for your diabetes patients. Use days like this as a fun way to educate your patients on the need for physical activity every day.
There have been many studies to show that diet and exercise can stop pre-diabetic and overweight people from developing diabetes, and even put diabetic patients into remission. However, prescription medication cannot be removed from the equation entirely. It can help alleviate some of the major symptoms of diabetes, allowing diabetics to maintain a normal lifestyle.
This is why adherence is such an important part of diabetes education. You should be able to locate diabetic patients within your pharmacy software, counsel them on their medications and the importance of taking them, and set them up on medication synchronization program. Doing this serves a double purpose of taking care of your patients and improving your pharmacy’s star rating!
Increase your patient adherence by establishing a med sync program in your pharmacy.