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Flipping the Paradigm: Applying a Solution-Focused Approach to Reducing Risk

You are braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. – Christopher Robin

National Diabetes Month is almost over, what informative and interesting activities were you engaged with this year?  

Taking a solution-focused approach to diabetes self care

As we near the end of the month, we are also finishing our 7-week series on applying a solution-focused approach to the AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors for managing diabetes. This series is focusing on “flipping” the conversation from a “problem focused” (traditional medical) approach to a solution-focused conversation. Last week we shared about taking a solution-focused approach to Problem Solving. And the prior weeks we focused on Taking Medications here, Monitoring blood glucose here, Healthy Eating  here, Being Active here, and Healthy Coping here. This week, we are talking about Reducing Risks 

When looking at this picture above of the friendly neighborhood kitty balancing precariously across the covered porch rails, it reminds us of life with diabetes… trying to stay in balance never knowing when the bottom may fall out.  

AADE7 Self-Care Behavior #7: Reducing Risks

Taking care diabetes today can help people feel good today AND in the future. When blood glucose is in range, one is more likely to:

  • have more energy, both physical and emotional
  • be less tired and thirsty
  • pass urine less often
  • heal better and
  • have fewer skin or bladder infections

Many say they are their “best self” when their blood glucose is in range. And managing diabetes TODAY means there will also be less chance of having health issues caused by diabetes over time. The important words there are “over time.” Taking care of diabetes now will help reduce the risk of heart attacks, stroke, damage to kidneys and nerves, and loss of vision. But It’s not just about the diabetes, it’s about supporting those with diabetes in living their best life! 

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. (Chinese Proverb)  Just one step.

We want to support and guide our clients toward actionable steps they can take now to live well with diabetes and help reduce the risk or delay issues down the road. Then, the key is replicating that small step over and over again to build momentum and actually feel progress. Small steps add up. You may be surprised by the great impact these small, yet simple things can have! 

The language we use when talking about diabetes complications is important to think about. When we use words like “prevent” as opposed to “reducing risk or delay progression” we imply that ALL complications CAN be prevented. Science tells us that this isn’t always true. Some people have genetic predispositions to either be “protected” from complications or to be at a higher risk. Healthcare providers can add to the stigma, shame and blame associated with diabetes when they don’t acknowledge the fact that some people will end up with complications……just because. We don’t want people to shy away from discussing health concerns, so let’s use our #LanguageMatters voice when we #TalkaboutComplications. That’s what The Grumpy Pumper (AKA Chris Aldred) has been doing this past year. Traveling around the globe, including a stop at #AADE19,  speaking openly and frankly about living with a complication from diabetes. You can read his blog here.  As Grumpy says, “Even with the best of care, people can get complications.” (from Diabetes Connections Podcast) So let’s use a solution-focused approach when talking with people with diabetes complications instead of rehashing any problems.

When working with clients instead of focusing on what is not working well or what is “wrong”, here are 3 illustrations of how to flip the conversation:

Try this:  By no means is smoking a simple habit to change. What can you do more of that may help you smoke less? Or what needs to happen to help you make changes?

Instead of this: You need to stop smoking. Smoking is bad news with diabetes.

Try this: How can you fit in an extra visit to see your eye doctor during national diabetes month?

Instead of this: You are behind on getting your eye and dental exams.

Try this: On a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being never and 10 being always, how often are you able to get an annual flu shot to help prevent illnesses?

Instead of this:  You haven’t gotten your flu shot.

Three follow-on questions to help you not only feel  better today, but to help prevent problems down the road:

  • What is one action you can take to reduce your risk? Work closely with your healthcare team to identify the best strategies for you to help manage them and prevent progression to live your best life.
  • What can you do NOW, right this second…to make life better now, as well as down the road.
  • What single change can you make over the next week?

And consider how people in your life can help. Loved ones, family, and friends can be close allies in your diabetes management. (last week we discussed VIPs, you can read it here)

We can encourage clients to keep taking those small steps each day. Consistency and routine build on each other. Small steps add up. If people do the best that they can do…then they can say at the end of the day, I did the best I could, and that’s a good feeling.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our series and that we’ve made you think before engaging with clients. And if you’re a person living with diabetes, we hope our choices resonate with you. Each week we’ve challenged you to try some flips into your conversations. Let us know what impact they have had. Please reach out to us to share feedback.  Let’s continue to join together  to raise awareness of all issues that can improve living with diabetes.

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If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

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