Self-care is essential for people with diabetes. There are seven self-care behaviors that predict positive outcomes when living with diabetes: eating, exercise, blood sugar monitoring, medication compliance, problem-solving skills, healthy coping skills, and risk-reduction. These self-care behaviors positively correlated with good glycemic control, reduction of complications, and quality of life.
Here are some tips and tricks that make daily diabetic self-care a little easier
- Have a smartphone? Make it work for you! Download an app on your phone that makes it easy to log your food, track your glucose levels, and be a part of a diabetic community. There are apps that are free and for a fee. These apps make it easy to receive reminder notifications to order, refill, and pick up prescriptions. Some apps even provide supply ordering options which make refilling test strips, glucose tablets, and replacing meter batteries easier.
- Dry skin can be a side effect of diabetes. Carry a small, travel size hand cream in your purse, briefcase or backpack for a quick and easy fix to relieving the annoying itch caused by dry skin.
- Take advantage and ask the people who know. You don’t only have to rely on your doctor to answer questions you may have about diabetes care. Pharmacists are also trained in diabetes care. Make use of your local pharmacy resources by having your pharmacist answer your questions regarding medications and OTC self-care purchases.
- Last in, first out is the motto for diabetic medication and supplies. Make sure that the oldest supplies and medication are in front of and used first when restocking with new. Keeping the oldest supplies and medicine in front provides a better chance that they will be used before they expire.
- Summer and sweat go hand in hand. Use a spray antiperspirant on your skin prior to applying your pump infusion set or sensor to ensure that the tape sticks to your skin even if it is wet from sweat.
- Insulin and acceptable temperature. When you are on the go and need to ensure that your insulin, pens, and pumps remain at an acceptable temp, use a cold gel pack to protect your insulin from hot, on the go temperatures. Using a cooling pack can keep your supplies cool and ready for up to 48 hours.
- Makeup bag organization is a must for car, plane, or train travel. Use appropriately sized toiletry bags to store like supplies- syringes, insulin, and alcohol in one bag and testers, strips, and lancets in another. This organizational system keeps your supplies in place and easy to find.
Other health-related self-care for successfully managing your diabetes includes
- Annual eye exams — maintaining eye health includes exams that may catch early signs of retinopathy external link, a condition with symptoms of blurred vision or partial blindness caused by damage to blood vessels in the eye.
- Foot care — monitoring the skin and webs of the toes for any open sores. Making sure that toenails are cut straight across and wearing closed-toe shoes to mitigate foot injuries.
- Reporting symptoms — numbness or tingling can be signs of nerve damage which is especially dangerous for older patients.
- Oral hygiene — Maintaining good dental health by brushing and flossing can minimize the effects of gingivitis and periodontitis which can contribute to glucose irregularity.
- Skin health — check the skin for discoloration and dryness which can create susceptibility to scrapes and sores when the skin is dehydrated. Hair loss can indicate nerve damage, staying hydrated can keep the skin strong and the hair healthy.
- Reducing stress — physical and emotional stress can leave patients feeling hopeless and unmotivated to continue self-care
Diabetes taught me discipline- Sonia Sotomayor
Taking care of yourself takes self-discipline and is the key to living with diabetes successfully. There are many ways for you to ensure that you are taking care of your whole self; the outside is as important as the inside including your emotional wellbeing.
Although there is no cure for diabetes, the disease can be managed successfully. To learn more about living life well with diabetes, read 26 Tips for Easier Living with Diabetes by Amy Jordan.