Diabetes Education at Think

We sat down with Think Whole Person Healthcare Diabetes Educator, Mary Jo Burkhardt, RN, BSN, CDE, to talk about her approach to educating her patients who live with diabetes. “I’m all about empowering my patients and instilling pride in them. Here they are, really taking control of their life and body, really taking good care of themselves.” Mary Jo uses an empathetic approach – she knows that everyone likes to eat foods that include carbohydrates – it’s natural to prefer those high-calorie foods (pizza, pasta, burgers, etc.). According to Mary Jo, her job is to individualize nutrition plans that fit into the life of her patients. That requires their honesty and her understanding. “I don’t judge my patients. We work together to create a plan that makes sure they can still eat the foods they love while staying healthy and regulating their blood sugars. When my patients follow our plan and we work together, they’re usually the healthiest eaters on the block.”

Mary Jo’s patient base consists mostly of those living with Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 is a completely different disease than Type 1. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease in which the body can’t produce insulin, and its symptoms typically begin to appear in children. However, Type 2 Diabetes typically occurs in those 45+ who are overweight and perform little physical activity. The body still makes insulin and the symptoms are less noticeable. Over time, though, the body does make, and exercise is highly recommended to help the body continue to make insulin.

Mary Jo is excited to be part of the Think Whole Person Healthcare family, as many of the services needed by those living with diabetes are all here in one place. Think Whole Person Healthcare has podiatrists, because those living with diabetes worry about their feet due to potential complications with the disease. Think Whole Person Healthcare also has behavioral specialists, Care Coordinators, optometrists, Clinical Pharmacists, dentists and hygienists, and primary care doctors – all who are in-the-know of the patient’s health plan and particular needs, and work together to help the patient manage their health.

Watch the videos below to hear right from Mary Jo, the passionate expert about all things diabetes education and management. Need more information? Don’t hesitate to reach out to Mary Jo directly!

 

 

Here’s an additional note from Mary Jo Burkhardt about living life to the fullest during the holiday season while living with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes:

Those living with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes can work their favorite holiday foods into their meal plan. I encourage people to be mindful about what they are eating and to be careful to eat their favorite holiday foods only on the holiday itself – in moderation. I also stress the importance of staying on their food plan as many days a year – it’s within their power to stay as healthy as they can! I talk to my patients about how they can handle what can be many holiday parties and still stay pretty close to being on-target for their carbohydrate intake.

We discuss the importance of making sure they are exercising during this food-filled holiday time to help moderate their blood sugars with the benefits that exercise brings. If their diabetes is not in good control, they need to discuss this with their doctor or provider for a particular plan for handling the holidays.

Follow my tips to ensure that you enjoy every moment of the holidays spent with your friends and family. You can do what you love, no matter what, with our help…because Life is for Living.

 


 

Men’s Health Month

This June, we are celebrating Men’s Health Month. Instead of talking about what can go wrong for men – diseases, chronic conditions, and more – we’d like to talk about what can go right, VERY right – with regular and preventative care, that is!

 

Tip #1: Stay active.

Simply going on a walk for 20-30 minutes does a lot of good for your mind and body. Being outside in the fresh air and the bright sun gives you a chance to clear your head and soak up that vitamin D that makes you feel so refreshed, productive and good about yourself. And get brownie points – take the dog with you, too! Exercising the heart helps you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk for high cholesterol, heart disease and other things that prevent you from living your life to the fullest.

 

Tip #2: Intuitive eating – it’s not all or nothing.

Eat healthy, yummy foods you love. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re satisfied. Give into your cravings with moderation. Denying your cravings and foods you love makes it more likely that you’ll binge on them down the road. Our registered dietitian and diabetes educator, Michelle Ring, is an expert at creating nutrition plans around your lifestyle and tastes. She’s accepting new patients, too! Learn more and give her a call.

 

Tip #3: Try to enjoy just the good things in life.

Smoking, binge drinking, and too much stress aren’t necessarily the best things in life. What are some other healthy options you can enjoy? If you need to, seek help from your doctor for ways to quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption.

Additionally, too much stress wears on the mind and body, and can also become a reason people turn to alcohol, tobacco and/or other substances. It also seems as though men don’t feel comfortable sharing their feelings. Let us encourage you to talk about how you’re feeling. Seek help if you think you need it. The truth is – no one can get through the ups and downs of life on their own. We have a great team of expert mental health professionals – from mental health therapists to a psychiatrist and more. Learn more about our Mental Health team.

 

Tip #4: Learn to love the doctor.

When you visit your Think primary doctor regularly, you develop peace of mind knowing that you’re staying your healthiest. Your Think doctor and their team of nurses, care coordinators, clinical pharmacists and specialists get to know you personally – like things you like to do, your status and health goals and more. With this complete knowledge of you, they help you maintain your health in a personal, unique way – honoring you as a whole person and helping you live your life to the fullest. Need a doctor and want the convenience of coordinated care and a one-stop-healthcare-shop? Learn more about becoming a patient at Think.

 

Live your life to the fullest by doing the things you love. We’re here to support you every step of the way. And to help you stay out of the hospital, out of the ER and out there living life. After all, Life is for Living! Happy Men’s Health Month and keep loving life!

 


 

Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month

April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms, causes and treatment of Parkinson’s Disease – just in case.

 

It’s not as rare as you may think

According to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Parkinson’s Disease is the second-most diagnosed brain disease after Alzheimer’s with 60,000 diagnoses a year. It’s most commonly diagnosed in those 60+ years of age.

 

Why does this happen?

Parkinson’s Disease is a movement disorder caused by failure or death of dopamine-making brain cells. Dopamine coordinates movement, motivation and good feelings. There’s no one thing scientists can pinpoint as the cause of the disease; the current understanding is that it’s caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors – like genetic mutations and exposure to toxins – herbicides and pesticides.

Scientists have begun turning their attention to Lewy bodies, too. Lewy bodies are made of a protein called alpha-synuclein. These abnormal protein clumps can’t be broken down, and they appear to develop within the brain cells of those with Parkinson’s Disease. Lewy bodies block neurotransmitter release – molecules being delivered between neurons. This includes the neurotransmitter dopamine and is likely the reason why, as mentioned above, dopamine creation and transmission fails for those living with Parkinson’s Disease. There will likely be more research and findings on Lewy bodies in coming years.

 

What does it mean for those living with it?

Parkinson’s Disease is a unique experience to all who live with it. The array of Parkinson’s symptoms manifest in different combinations per individual. Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Resting tremor
  • Stiffness
  • Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)
  • Walking imbalance
  • Difficulty smelling
  • Cramped handwriting (micrographia)
  • Problems with sleep
  • Cognitive changes
  • Depression

 

Parkinson’s Disease can be a devastating diagnosis. It could mean the end of a career for a marathon runner, an artist’s creativity to never be actualized again due to shaking hands, many ends to a person’s everyday life and ensuing depression due to these symptoms and the lack of dopamine. The point is, it could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

 

What can we do about it?

There is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, and there’s no way to stop its progression. Current medications and treatments can ease symptoms. Treatment plans are individual to the patient since Parkinson’s Disease is a unique experience to those living with it. It usually takes coordination among several healthcare providers, and a combination of treatments.

Treatments can include surgery, as in deep brain stimulation to reduce symptoms, physical therapy and general exercise, and medications that supplement or make up for the lack of dopamine in the brain.

Lifestyle changes are also recommended: changing eating habits to include more wholesome, nutritious choices, exercising – swimming, walking and yoga – and maintaining relationships versus closing yourself off to the world.

 

How Think’s Care Coordination can help

Think Whole Person Healthcare’s services can play a huge supporting role to those living with any chronic condition – including Parkinson’s. Since your primary doctor is the best first point of contact when you’re experiencing any odd symptoms, it’s most often primary doctors who diagnose Parkinson’s Disease. From there, they’ll likely recommend going to see a movement disorder specialist, neurologist and/or speech language pathologist depending on the patient’s symptoms and the doctor’s knowledge of who their patient is.

This is where Think Whole Person Healthcare can help. Since Parkinson’s Disease symptoms are vast and unique, there will be a lot of people suggesting treatments, medications, etc. Think Whole Person Healthcare’s Care Coordinators know their patients’ care plans and manage it with specialists so the primary doctor can better treat patients and communicate with all involved in the care plan.

Think Whole Person Healthcare has its own specialists in-house that help, too. Our nine physical therapists specialize in different areas of care – like spinal problems, gait, balance, chronic pain, and more, and some even have a background in psychology, which offers a more balanced, whole-person treatment. Our physical therapists offer a free Balance Assessment, where they test to see if individuals qualify for our Fall Prevention Class; staying active, strong and balanced while living with Parkinson’s, especially if experiencing imbalance, is extremely beneficial and preventative.

Other in-house specialists include massage therapy, mental health, podiatrists and more who can play a huge role, too, also depending on the symptoms.

Raising awareness is key to raising funds and research efforts to find cures for those living with Parkinson’s Disease, experiencing a wide assortment of symptoms that are life-changing. There’s no better time than now to start spreading the word and helping your fellow earth-dwellers living with the disease. Sharing this article with your friends is a great place to start.


 

The Importance of Primary Care

Visiting Your Primary Care Physician (PCP) First and Often

To understand what primary care is, we need talk terminology first. There are three types of Primary Care Physicians (PCP); two of them apply to you, but we’ll go through all three for fun.

  • Pediatrician – Cares for children.
  • Internal Medicine – Cares for adults.
  • Family Practitioner – Cares for both.

Think has internists and family physicians. Each Primary Care Physician has an entire team of nurses and pharmacists helping you manage your whole health. Are you smarter than you were 5-7 seconds ago? Maybe yes, maybe no. Keep reading, and you’ll surely be smarter about your healthcare than you were before.

 

Let’s say you notice a sharp pain in your back, or that chronic pain in your foot is acting up again. Your Primary Care Physician is your first point of contact on your road to wellness.

“Why?”

Well, there are actually tons of reasons why you need to go to your PCP first and often.

Here are two important reasons you should use your PCP to manage your whole health:

1. Going to your PCP before a specialist increases communication and collaboration.

It’s obvious that communication is essential to maintain your whole health. You wouldn’t want to go to a cardiologist first, who has no comprehensive, centralized documentation of your health history and medications. What if you can’t remember your mediation list and they prescribe you conflicting medications?

Think of your Primary Care Physician the guardian of your healthcare plan. At Think, they, along with the rest of your care management team, have access to your Electronic Health Record (EHR), accessible to all who treat you within the walls of Think.

With the touch of a button, your PCP can see all your medical history, medications, notes, and more. Plus, they can consult with their pharmacist (yes, there is one Clinical Pharmacist assigned to each Think PCP!). All of this makes it way more likely your healthcare decisions are informed and effective – and that you’re getting the absolute best, most affordable medication combinations possible, vs. starting the process with a specialist.

Your PCP is specialized and highly trained in adult healthcare, and they can do many of the exams that a specialist can.

If, in the case your PCP thinks you need a specialist during your visit, they’ll recommend the best one for you based on their knowledge of who you are. What’s great about this process is that know your PCP is aware and communicating with your specialist. Learn more about Think Specialists.

✅ Yes: Going to your PCP before a specialist increases communication and collaboration.

 

2. Your life is for living – so protect your health with regular visits to your PCP.

Life is meant to be spent at your sister’s birthday party, splurging on that watch you really wanted, reading a great book in your favorite chair in your living room, and going out to dinner with your friends.

We like to see you when you’re well – and keep you that way! When you visit your PCP regularly, the chances of you maintaining the lifestyle you want increase significantly.

Sure, visiting your PCP regularly may be more money now. It’s proven that regular, preventative check-ups with your PCP equate to significantly less spent in the future and less suffering during your life.

Because of the overseer role your PCP and their team play in your whole health, regular visits to your PCP vs. sporadic visits to specialists prevents miscommunications in medication and treatments that lead to those expensive treatments and ER visits down the road.

❗▶ Fact: One of the top reasons for hospitalization is medication error. Check out Think Pharmacy’s 5-step, ThinkSync Medication Plan.

✅ Did we make our point? We think so: Your life is for living – so protect your health with regular visits to your PCP.

 

These two reasons to let your PCP manage your whole health are all the more important when you have more than one chronic condition, which many Think patients do.

Care management of chronic conditions is something we specialize in. At Think, we’ve got nurses, called Care Coordinators, who create, communicate and help execute your personalized care plan – along with a team that includes your Primary Care Physician, their nurses and pharmacist.

To sum it up, avoiding medical error and being the healthiest you can be are both reasons why you should see your Primary Care Physician first and often.

 

If you feel like you’re for sure smarter at this point, consider becoming a patient at Think!