When choosing the best diabetes support group, you should consider what type of group with which you will be comfortable. This may include factors such as how many people will be in attendance, whether the leader is a layperson or a professional, and the time or location of the meetings. Some people prefer online groups, while others prefer a combination of online support in addition to group meetings. Whenever possible, you should attend a couple of meetings of different groups to determine which group fits your personal needs.
Although support groups are not a substitute for medical attention, one of the reasons that people join the groups is to learn more about diabetes. If learning more about diabetes is your main goal, you may want to attend a diabetes support group that is led by a medical professional. Often groups that laypeople run have guest speakers. For example, a group may ask a foot doctor to give a presentation about foot problems for diabetics. When choosing a group, ask about how often they have guest speakers.
One of the most limiting factors for choosing the best diabetes support group is the location of the meetings. In metropolitan areas, you may have several groups to choose from, but in smaller rural areas you may have only one or two groups to consider. In some areas, there are no meetings. Often people in these areas choose an online group.
Another factor that you need to consider is the time of the meeting. In areas where there are several choices, you may narrow the selection to a time that is convenient for you. The size of the group is also a factor. Some people prefer small groups of 8 to 12 people, while others enjoy larger groups.
When you attend a group, you should feel comfortable. A good diabetes support group helps its participants lower their stress levels, lower the chance of depression, and share useful tips. If a group is clique-ish or the others attack or belittle some of the members, it is probably not a good group to join. You want to feel welcomed and secure. A good group leader will encourage the group to be supportive and helpful.
The group members' ages, their ethnic background, and whether they focus on only one type of diabetes are other factors to consider. You need to assess your comfort level with any of these factors. Some people do not mind mixed groups, whereas other people prefer to be with their peers.
Some groups are specialty groups. An example of this is a group for African American diabetics that includes dance as part of their sessions. Often ethnic groups form coalesce to help their members who speak a different language or have special cultural traditions. You may be more comfortable joining a specialty group or starting one if there is none in your area.
Generally, a diabetes support group will publicize its meeting times and location in a local newspaper. You can ask your health provider if he or she knows of any groups in the area or if the medical facility has a group. Nonprofit organizations like a national diabetes association, other diabetics, or social workers sometimes have information about support groups. Other places to look for a diabetes support group are in the telephone directory, online social networking sites, and college bulletin boards.