Fresh Views

Flipping the Paradigm: Applying a Solution-Focused Approach to Taking Medications

Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch. -― Parker Palmer 

Big Ben in London, England 

@AFreshPOVforYou is one-year old!

Happy birthday to us @AFreshPOVforYou! Our blog is officially one-year old, 56 posts later! 

Over the last year we have focused on Possibilities, Opportunities and creating a Vision (POV) for the future by taking a solution-focused approach to life with diabetes. We’ve been excited to share our work and learnings by speaking at the AADE19 Annual Meeting, helping diabetes care and education specialists learn how to incorporate a solution-focused approach into their practice. We also shared our Twitter research findings at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes conference in Barcelona, Spain. And we’ve conducted a survey, focus groups, and have a few papers in process. It’s been a great year and we’re excited to see where this next year leads us!

And it’s now national diabetes month 

We purposely launched this blog right before #WorldDiabetesDay last year, to kick off our new adventure. And here we are again. What are you doing for diabetes month? Do you have an event or an idea you’d like to share with us or our readers? Please let us know in the comments. We’ll be adding in some diabetes month discussions throughout November, along with sharing insights about using solution-focused approach to self-care behaviors.

Taking a solution-focused approach to diabetes self care

This  week is week 5 of 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. Have you tried any “flips” in the past 4 weeks? Please let us know if you have, and what your experience was. 

Last week we shared about taking a solution-focused approach to Monitoring blood glucose – you can read it here.  And the weeks prior we focused on Healthy Eating  here, Being Active here, and Healthy Coping here.. This week, we are talking about taking medications. 

AADE7 Self-Care Behavior #5: Taking Medications

While taking medication of some type is often required somewhere in the journey with type 2 diabetes, it’s not always simple to engage in this self-care practice. We hear that routinely from clients we work with. Here are 3 challenges that frequently bubble up…

1- Remembering. No matter what one’s age, remembering to take medication can be a challenge at one time or another. After all, life happens and can derail even the best intentions. In our experience, missing medication doses can also be linked to the dosing frequency, side effects, or diabetes distress. When it comes to remembering to take medication, solution-focused strategies to consider include, using a medication reminder app, using a pill box, pill packs, keeping the medication in view as a reminder (if it doesn’t require refrigeration), marking a calendar when a dose is taken, and setting an alarm on a smartphone or clock. (The mention of a clock, reminded us of Big Ben in London, so that’s our fresh view for today!)              

2 – Stigma. With type 2 diabetes, there is often stigma associated with taking medicine. There is a false sense that people “should” be able to manage diabetes through healthy eating, being active and losing weight. But we know that is not always reality. Given that diabetes has a genetic link and is a progressive condition, things change over time. What works today, might not work next month or next year. So talking about diabetes medicine using a positive, solution-focused approach can help build a trusting relationship and a therapeutic alliance in which to discuss medicine choices and barriers while using a shared-decision making approach.  

3 – Cost/Access. We must also be cognizant of the cost of medicine when considering options. Although there are some incredible, effective new medications that impact the patho-physiology of diabetes, these new drugs often come with a high price tag. And they may not be included on insurance formularies. And the cost of insulin is beyond crazy. The American Diabetes Association has a website to help people navigate this complex issue and provide a list of resources. Unless we have open conversations, we may not know that people are not taking their medicine because they are not able to afford it. How can we say they are “non-compliant” or “non-adherent” when this is the case?  We need to change the language we use in diabetes, especially around medication taking. The #LanguageMatters conversation is essential when talking about medications.

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: Diabetes is a progressive condition. It’s common for people to need more medicine over time. Can we talk about the benefits of adding insulin?

Instead of this: You’ve failed oral medicine, you need to take insulin.

Try this: What challenges do you have when taking your medicine?

Instead of this: You’re not compliant with your medicine.

Try this: How many days each week do you take your medication?

Instead of this:  How often do you forget to take your medication?

We challenge you each week to try some flips into your conversations and let us know what impact they have. Let’s join together throughout the month of November to raise awareness of all issues that can improve living with diabetes.

Join us next week as we discuss a solution focused-approach to the self-care behavior around problem-solving.

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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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