The Fort HealthCare Diabetes Education Department continues a free monthly education and support group for individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetes, and for anyone that wishes to learn more about diabetes.

Loved ones also are welcome to attend.

The group will meet on the second Wednesday of each month, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in classroom A on the ground floor of Fort Memorial Hospital, located at 611 Sherman Ave. East in Fort Atkinson.

The goal of the education and support group is to provide education and practical tips related to the prevention and management of diabetes. The group also can serve as a social network and provide emotional support and a healthy way to share one’s diabetes experience with others.

Meetings will be in a casual, positive setting, and different topics will be shared each month. Registration is not required, and there is no cost to attend each session.

Topics will be about the many aspects of health and wellness related to diabetes.

Current remaining scheduled topics include:

• Wednesday, Oct. 9: “Exchanging Recipes/Making Cookbook.”

• Wednesday, Nov. 13: “Coping Strategies.”

• Wednesday, Dec. 11: “Eating Healthy/Cooking Demonstration.”

There are many benefits that can be experienced by participating in a support group:

• Feel a sense of community and have others to talk to about your feelings, thoughts and ideas.

• Be around other people who will listen, and express daily struggles, fears and successes.

• Support groups are designed to be open-minded, positive and conducted in a non- judgmental atmosphere.

• Participants will share many helpful tips and tricks related to diabetes management.

• Group members share their success stories, give positive feedback and cheer you on.

• Learn practical coping skills to use in your daily life with diabetes.

• Feelings of stress and anxiety are decreased when you have an outlet to express your concerns.

• Insight is gained for your own goals.

• You also can offer support and valuable information to others in the group, thereby helping those around you as well as yourself.

The support group’s facilitator is Shawn Biwer, BSN, RN, Lead Diabetes Educator with Fort HealthCare. Biwer has been an emergency room and later an operating room nurse at Fort HealthCare for over 20 years. Currently as the lead diabetes educator, she gets the chance to work with people in a different stage in their care.

“I have always enjoyed working with people, and now I am excited I get to teach,” Biwer states. “I find it very rewarding to help people learn about their diabetes and how to manage it every day. What many people don’t realize is small adjustments can make such a big impact.

“When I can help someone feel better, see positive changes and feel more in control of their health, I am pleased that I was able to be a part of their motivation and success,” she added.

The Fort HealthCare Diabetes Education Department helps individuals manage their condition through personalized information, support and education. Biwer sees patients by appointment at her office at Fort Memorial Hospital.

A referral by a health-care provider and a diagnosis of diabetes is required. Certain health insurances might cover appointments for diagnoses of pre-diabetes.

The Diabetes Education program and curriculum is recognized by the American Diabetes Association and follows American Association of Diabetes Educators guidelines for self-care behaviors.

Biwer notes that the people she meets with always come away from their time together with something they can do and tools they can use right away.

The information that is shared during a diabetes education session can help delay the onset of diabetes-related health complications, and help individuals understand their new lifestyle.

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