No matter how long you’ve had diabetes, managing your self-care can be a difficult balancing act: With a meticulous approach toward controlling your blood glucose level, you risk episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose); but relax a little too much, and your level can shoot through the roof. For many people with diabetes, this balancing act also applies to the cost of managing their condition. Sure, everyone wants to save money — but not when trimming the budget now could increase the risk of developing burdensome and expensive complications later on.
This article reviews ways to save on education, drugs, supplies, food, and exercise, while also pointing out some strategies that yield more risk than savings.
Since knowledge about diabetes and its care is constantly expanding and changing, education is the gateway to improving all aspects of your self-care. While medical professionals are a critical source of guidance, people with diabetes who get their information from a variety of sources are more likely to know what questions to ask and how to make the best use of visits to their health-care team.
With this in mind, seek lots of education with a focus on value: the quantity and quality of information received compared to its price. Personal medical attention is, of course, irreplaceable; it gives you the most direct, personally relevant information of any source. Group education, however, is an excellent complement to one-on-one visits. Not only does it offer interaction with a professional at a lower cost, but it also gives you an opportunity to interact with and learn from other people with diabetes. Many hospitals and clinics offer both group and individual sessions with Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs), which most insurance plans cover for a set number of hours.
Written materials can also be a great way to get information and expand your knowledge. The American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes, for example, is a good general reference on diabetes. The Diabetes Self-Management Answer Book is full of in-depth tips to help you take charge of your diabetes.
If you like Web-based resources, scores of diabetes-related Internet blogs exist, including the ones on our own Web site (www.diabetesselfmanagement.com). Although many are decidedly not authoritative sources of information, diabetes blogs offer a ready supply of potentially useful ideas, experiences, and musings. But don’t change your self-care regimen solely because of something you read on a blog or in the news. Each person’s diabetes is different and requires an individualized approach. Speak to your health-care provider about new products or ideas you read about.
Educating children about their diabetes can be particularly challenging. Fortunately, numerous materials have been developed for this purpose. Some of the products with especially positive consumer ratings include the CD-ROM “Diabetes Education for Kids” by dbaza, inc. (for PC only) and the workbook It’s Time to Learn About Diabetes by Jean Betschart Roemer. Reviews of other materials for children, with links to buy them online, are available at the Web site Children With Diabetes (www.childrenwithdiabetes.com) in the “Products” section. Another helpful resource is the “Kids Online” Web site of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (http://kids.jdrf.org).