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January 6, 2000

Social Issues: Community Resources

Question from Broomfield, Colorado, USA:

Some background: My sister was diagnosed when she was eight years old -- she is now 21. She has never been stable, I feel, due in part to our semi-functional family support system and in part due to poor management of her disease (maybe still struggling with acceptance of diabetes and the "stuff" that goes with it). She is working and in college, living on her own and struggling to make it all work. She is struggling physically, mentally and emotionally (and to add another, financially). She is no longer on my parents' insurance and is struggling with her finances -- resulting in poor eating habits. She is fighting to maintain an expensive disease. She takes 3 shots daily, suppose to check glucose 2-3 times a day, and mixes 2 types of insulin. Added to her personal woes she can't seem to get herself together. Characteristically, her health is unstable, with many ups and downs. At one time, we were roommates and I was able to "Keep an eye out" for her, since I got married, moved out, she moved closer to my parents -- again things went down hill for her. I now live in Colorado and she lives in West Virginia. My question: We need resources! I'd like any information on financial help. Also, I think a diabetes management courses or a camp would really benefit her. She is still looking for her niche in life, but cannot seem to get past the bumps. I am concerned, because my parents want her to, finally, take responsibility for herself, but I think she is missing the skills necessary to do so. Can you help?


As a diabetes educator, I work with people all the time that have the challenges your sister has. Educators are able to get testing supplies, insulin, etc. from the manufacturers’ reps and provide free of charge of the few patients that are without insurance or money.

My suggestion is that your sister contact diabetes educators in her area, talk to them, attend their support groups, and find a support system. She can contact the American Association of Diabetes Educators (1-800-TEAM�UP�4) for names of educators in her area.

Additional comments from Lois Schmidt Finney, diabetes dietitian:

She needs to see a diabetes team and perhaps a social worker for help. Your concern for her is fabulous, so please continue.


[Editor’s comment: Another thought to help her find a diabetes team: she could look at some of the ideas at Finding a New Diabetes Doctor.