Some people are natural-born schedulers. They plan out what they’ll be doing practically every hour of the day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. For others, there’s not so much as a calendar or a reminder sticky note in sight! We’re all different with how we approach everything that needs to get done.
When it comes to your diabetes and your health, however, it pays to keep organized. That’s because there’s a whole lot that you do to take care of yourself, from checking blood sugars, to planning meals, to keeping appointments. Plus, you’re the one who manages your diabetes on a daily basis. Yes, you probably have a small team of health care professionals surrounding you, but chances are, they’re not going home with you to take care of you or remind you to follow through on your self-care.
Why take care of your diabetes?
The answer to this question may or may not be obvious. Taking care of yourself and your diabetes can help you feel well, both today and in the future. Blood sugars that are mostly within your target range means that you are more likely to:
- Have more energy and be less tired
- Be less thirsty
- Have to urinate less often
- Have fewer skin, bladder, and/or yeast infections
Longer term, you’ll be less likely to have certain health problems such as:
- A heart attack or stroke
- Eye problems that can affect your vision
- Pain, tingling, or numbness in your hands and feet
- Kidney problems
- Teeth and gum problems
Part of preventing these issues is learning about your diabetes and having a diabetes treatment plan that’s tailored to you, since everyone’s diabetes is different. The other part is following your treatment plan and keeping up with certain tasks, tests, and exams so that you stay on track.
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Your diabetes schedule
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following schedule so that you can meet your diabetes health goals and stay as healthy as possible. To make it more manageable, it’s divided up based on what needs to be done daily, every three or six months, every year, and then on an as needed basis.
- Monitoring your blood sugar, either with a meter or a CGM. How often will depend on the kind of diabetes medicines that you take and what your blood sugars are like.
- Taking your diabetes medicines, as well as any other medicines for blood pressure, cholesterol, and kidney health, as prescribed.
- Fitting in about 30 minutes (or the amount that is right for you) of physical activity each day.
- Eating mostly healthy foods, and aiming for a balance of foods that contain carbohydrate, protein, and fat.
- Checking your feet for cuts, sores, redness, blisters, corns and calluses, or other skin or nail changes. Ask someone to check your feet for you if you can’t see the bottom of your feet.
Every three months
- Getting your A1C checked if you are having trouble meeting your blood sugar goals or as advised by your provider.
- Meeting with your provider and/or diabetes educator if you are not meeting your treatment goals or are having difficulty following your treatment plan.
Every six months
- Getting your A1C checked every six months if you are meeting your treatment and blood sugar goals.
- Seeing your provider every six months if things are going well with your treatment plan. This is a good time to review your plan, as well as to ask your provider to check your feet.
- Seeing your dentist to get your teeth and gums examined and cleaned (don’t forget to let your dentist know that you have diabetes).
- Meeting with a diabetes educator to “check in” and review your medicines, blood sugar results, and eating and physical activity plan. You can also use this time to learn about new technologies or medicines, or brush up on things like sick-day rules or how to manage your diabetes when traveling or when your work schedule changes.
- Getting vaccinations, such as a yearly flu shot.
- Getting lab work for cholesterol, kidney function, and any other health conditions that you have.
- Having a comprehensive dilated eye exam to check your vision and to check for retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
- Getting your hearing checked, especially if you aren’t hearing as well as you used to.
- Getting other vaccinations, such as a hepatitis B shot, pneumonia shot, or shingles shot. Some vaccinations consist of two shots given within six months of each other. The pneumonia shot can be given before age 65, but once you turn 65, you’ll need two more doses.
- Having visits with specialists, such as a cardiologist, neurologist, or kidney doctor. These appointments may be needed if you develop any kinds of complications or if existing complications are worsening.
- Seeing a mental health professional if you are feeling depressed, sad, or hopeless. Your primary care provider can refer you a mental health professional.
- Having a visit with anyone on your team if you feel unwell or have concerns, if you want to make changes to your treatment plan, if you want more education, or if your health insurance changes.
Want to learn more about making the most of your diabetes care visits? Read “Planning for a Successful Doctor’s Visit” and “Five Tips for a Diabetes Doctor Visit.”