Partnering to Improve Diabetes Care

Chronic diseases, diabetes, and arthritis contribute to 95% of healthcare expenditures among older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in Georgia, and over 25% of Georgians ages 65+ have diabetes.

This National Diabetes Month, we’re sharing some basics about the condition and one innovative program in metro Atlanta that is helping people with diabetes live healthier lives.

Living a Healthy Lifestyle with Diabetes

Depending on what type of diabetes you have, whether it’s type 1 or type 2, you can still manage to live your best life. The key is taking action and sticking with it. Living a healthy lifestyle focusing on exercise and proper diet will help manage your condition.

The American Diabetes Association is a good place to start gaining a deeper understanding of how you can live a healthier life while managing diabetes – providing you with tools, health tips, and food ideas.

The Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age and in people of every race, shape, and size when your body does not produce insulin. The body breaks down the carbohydrates you eat into blood sugar (glucose) that it uses for energy; insulin is a hormone that the body needs to then get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. For people with type 1 diabetes, insulin therapy is one of the treatments to help manage this condition.

Person's hands checking their blood sugar with a finger prick
Person checking their blood sugar level.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, when your body stops using insulin properly. You can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes with achievable and actionable lifestyle changes, such as losing a small amount of weight and being more physically active. The amount of weight and exercise will differ from person to person. Some people are able to control their blood sugar levels, but others may need medication or insulin to help manage their type 2 diabetes.

A key aspect to managing type 2 diabetes is maintaining a healthy diet. You must eat something sustainable that helps you feel better and well fed. It’s about finding what suits you and your lifestyle the best. No matter which type of diabetes you might have, a little activity every day goes a long way.

What is the ARCHI Diabetes Health Coaching Program?

The ARCHI Diabetes Health Coaching Program started in April 2019 and is a partnership between the Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement (ARCHI), Grady Hospital, Mercy Care Hospital Systems, and the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) to provide care for adults with an A1C level greater than eight (8) percent who are at risk of complications from diabetes. (A1C is the estimated average glucose level in a person’s blood over the past two to three months measured by a blood test. An A1C level above 6.5% is considered within the type 2 diabetes range.)

Participants in the program receive personalized health coaching and are connected to social determinants of health support through ARC’s Empowerline, the Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) for metro Atlanta. Through this collaborative effort, ARC and health care providers are working to create more equity in health care within the region.

The program consists of nine coaching calls over the span of six months with a diabetes health coach from ARC. The coach provides personalized support and recommendations and helps to increase patient access to diabetes self-management tools and education. Participants are referred to ARC through one of the healthcare partners, and the program is free for patients.

ARCHI Diabetes Health Coaching Program Success Stories

A couple of participants who completed the program shared some insight on their experiences:

“During the program, I made tremendous changes. Coach explained everything subject by subject, breaking down food. I feel well-educated on how to take care of myself and focus. I also felt encouraged to walk for exercise more. When coach emailed recipes to help with healthy meal planning, it felt like coach really cared and was invested in my health.”

“Since participating in the program, I am very active – I walk two miles every day. I also started eating more vegetables and cook them with no salt – I have found other seasonings to use to make them taste better.”

For more information and resources about living with diabetes, visit Empowerline. There you can find additional resources to learn about your chronic condition and manage your chronic condition.

Megan Malasarte

Megan Malasarte is an Administrative Assistant at Boston Consulting Group. She was a former professional track athlete for the Atlanta Track Club Elite Team. She is passionate about fitness and exploring the great outdoors.