Looking to lead a stronger, healthier life?
Sign up for our Wellness Wire newsletter for all sorts of nutrition, fitness, and wellness wisdom.

Now we’re in this together.
Thanks for subscribing and having us along on your health and wellness journey.

See all Healthline's newsletters »
Advertisement
It's a Type 2 Life
It's a Type 2 Life

San Francisco Bay Area resident Patrick Totty writes about his experiences living with type 2 diabetes

See all posts »

High Tech, High Touch

I spent last weekend working with several people located in far parts of the country putting together a funding proposal for a study aimed at older type 2s. The study is designed to see how effective a mentoring program aimed at type 2s ages 65 and older might be in helping them gain better control over their disease.

I have no idea if the team I worked with will succeed in getting funding, but working on the proposal reminded me of a slogan from the 1980s that is still fresh today: “High tech, high touch.”

The slogan came into vogue when the first trickle of high-tech devices began streaming onto the market—fax machines, personal computers, and sophisticated phone services like call waiting. “High touch” referred to the notion of using those emerging technologies to make the vendor-customer/doctor-patient/teacher-student relationship friendlier, more comfortable, and more personal.

The study we are proposing will pair older type 2s with mentors who connect to them via cell phones, tablets, computers, Facebook, Twitter, and numerous other channels and devices. The mentors, all seasoned diabetes educators or healthcare providers, will give immediate, personalized feedback to their type 2 mentees.

That means more than just looking over the raw figures that preoccupy so much of life as a person with diabetes—the endless blood glucose readings, carb and calorie counts, exercise times and units, and quantities of medicines taken. It opens the door to personal aspects, as well. Sometimes you just need somebody who understands the turf to listen to your woes and hear your concerns. 

In fact, one of the questions we discussed in drawing up our proposal was whether the conventional medical approach to treating diabetes was reaching the end of its effectiveness.

By conventional, I mean the traditional path of getting diagnosed, taking a class with a certified dietitian, then going on the succession of drugs that eventually leads to insulin therapy. All, of course, with periodic visits to the doctor or endocrinologist to confirm that, “Yep, you have type 2 diabetes and it’s a shame that it’s a progressive disease.”

But with a huge number of prediabetics in the pipeline (the federal government estimates about 80 million people) and hundreds of thousands of newly diagnosed type 2s emerging each year, the old medical model may be due for a remake. Along with conventional drug therapy, the time may have come to establish mentor/mentee relationships that bring an extra warm, human element into the experience of having diabetes.

It won’t be a one-way street. Mentors will have the reward of seeing their considerable knowledge put to direct, effective use. Watching their mentees thrive from extra attention and fast feedback will make them eager partners.

At least that’s my hope. I know that close relationships with a mentor will not be everybody’s cup of tea. But for a somewhat more vulnerable population of older people, learning how to use social media to benefit their health, morale, and engage in simple human contact may be the best thing to come along since, well, sliced bread and the fax machine.

 

 

  • 1

Tags: Hope , Communication

Was this article helpful? Yes No

Recommended for You

  • Small A1c Drop, Big Life Expectancy Gain

    By: Patrick Totty
    Nov 01, 2012

    While controversy swirls around what A1c percentage is ideal for type 2s, no one denies that lower is better. Currently, the recommended A1c target is 6.5%, equivalent to a daily average of140 mg/dL. For older people who’ve been diagnosed for...

    Read more »

  • 10 Nifty Diabetes Apps

    By: Patrick Totty
    Sep 25, 2012

    In 1987 I was researching an article about a young man who was making big waves in San Francisco commercial real estate. One day as I was interviewing him he asked me to accompany him on a walk to a client’s office several blocks away. He wa...

    Read more »

  • The September Potpourri

    By: Patrick Totty
    Sep 18, 2012

    Red wine improves insulin sensitivityIs there anything that red wine can’t do? A Spanish study shows that men who are at risk of developing heart disease who drink a glass of red wine daily—regular or dealcoholized—enjoy lower insulin resistanc...

    Read more »

  • Spreading the Word about Type 1 Diabetes

    By: Patrick Totty
    Aug 31, 2012

    For several years I’ve been writing news summaries and filling in as a back-up feature writer and copy editor for a diabetes publication. Today the editor asked me to look over an article by one of our best writers, a type 1 woman who lives ...

    Read more »

Advertisement

About the Author

Bay Area resident Patrick Totty was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in July, 2003.

Recent Blog Posts

Advertisement
Advertisement