"Diabetes is a very time-consuming disease to manage well," says Karmeen Kulkarni, MS, RD, CDE, and former president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association. "The medication, the food, the physical activity -- you add life in general to that whole picture and it ends up being quite challenging."
For most people, a blister, cut, or scrape on the foot is no big deal -- an "ouch!" and a hurriedly applied bandage, and it's over. Not so if you have diabetes; meticulous daily foot care is as important as monitoring blood glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels.
"Unfortunately, diabetes foot-health awareness doesn't have a colored ribbon or national voice," says foot care expert James Wrobel, DPM, of the University of Michigan Medical School. "If you don't manage them early, small problems...
Kulkarni and other experts shared these tips with WebMD to help you get organized and manage your time while keeping up with all your diabetes care duties.
Use a datebook, Palm Pilot, or other scheduling system to write in times for important diabetes care tasks, such as checking your blood sugar, taking medications, exercising, and doctor's appointments.
Reinforce your diabetes care schedule by putting up sticky notes or other messages as reminders. "The more reminders around the home or office, the better," Kulkarni says.
Keep all your medications, needles, test strips and other supplies in one place in your home. That way, you won't waste time looking for things. And you'll see at a glance which supplies are running low. Don't wait until the last minute to get new supplies.
Take a diabetes care "travel kit" whenever you leave the house, not just when you're on vacation. Pack the kit with all of your medical supplies, snacks, and water. Don't forget to include glucose tablets or hard candy in case you have low blood sugar. "Whenever you leave home, you could be caught in a situation where your blood sugar drops, and you're in an emergency situation," says Pamela J. Kelly, a Chicago consultant who has counseled people with diabetes on managing their time.
If you're struggling to manage your diabetes, find a care partner, such as a spouse or friend. "People with diabetes a lot of times will get very sad or depressed. Either they're not managing their diabetes at all, or they're having a tough time because it's a constant struggle," Kelly says. A care partner can help. "They'll understand your situation, your medication, any other diseases you have," Kelly says. "They'll understand what to look for and how to help you."
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