Diabetes Self-Management Articles

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Top 10 Health Tips for Women Over 65

by Helen L. Sloan, RN, CS, DNS, and Anne White Robinson, RN, DNS

  • Communicate with your health-care team about what works and what doesn’t in your diabetes care plan. Treatments that work for one person may not work for another, and the only way your health-care team will know if your treatment is working for you is if you tell them. If the medicines you use are causing unpleasant side effects, say so, and ask what can be done about it. If your meal plan leaves you feeling unsatisfied, ask your dietitian to help you work in more foods that you like. Remember, you’re the best judge of how you feel.
  • Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Skipping doctor visits, exams, or tests to save money could end up costing you a bundle in the future. If you let a problem go undetected and untreated, it can become more difficult and more expensive to treat later. Take all the recommended preventive care measures now, and attend to small problems before they become big problems.
  • Trust your common sense and don’t buy into unfounded diabetes treatments. If a product or treatment sounds too good to be true, odds are it is. Be wary of “breakthrough,” “miracle,” or “secret” cures and remedies. Don’t trust products that claim to cure a wide variety of ailments or promise instant, effortless results. If you hear about an alternative product or method that sounds interesting, talk to your doctor before you try it to find out whether it’s safe, effective, and appropriate for you and to make sure it doesn’t interfere with the treatment you’re currently using. If your doctor thinks the therapy is safe and worth trying, he’ll help you work it into your current diabetes plan. Whatever you do, don’t abandon your current treatment plan to pursue an unproven alternative.
  • Practice preventive medicine
    A good way to stay healthy is to detect and treat medical problems early — or, better yet, to prevent them altogether. Preventive measures you can take include getting screened for diabetes complications, cancer, and other conditions; getting immunizations; and taking precautions to prevent falls and injuries.

    An important concern for women with diabetes is screening for and preventing cardiovascular disease. Having high blood cholesterol and/or high blood pressure raises your risk of heart disease, so you should have your cholesterol checked once a year (or as recommended by your doctor) and your blood pressure checked every time you visit your doctor. You should also get tested once a year for microalbuminuria, or protein in the urine, an early sign of nephropathy and a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. In addition, you should have your HbA1c level checked two to four times each year to get an idea of how well you’re controlling your blood glucose level. Keeping your blood glucose as close to normal as possible helps you reduce your risk for diabetes complications.

    According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life, and 1 in 17 will develop colorectal cancer. Detecting these types of cancers early makes treating them more likely to be successful. The NCI recommends that women over 40 get a mammogram (a screening test for breast cancer) every one to two years. Several tests can detect cancer of the colon or rectum, and the American Cancer Society recommends that all people over 50 have either a fecal occult blood test once a year and flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, a colonoscopy once every 10 years, or a barium enema every 5–10 years. In addition, getting regular pelvic exams and Pap smears can help detect cervical, vaginal, and other gynecological cancers.

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    Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.



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