According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), diabetes affects more than 34 million Americans. While there are a variety of treatment options available, including medications, patients with diabetes can also engage in diabetes self-care strategies to help reduce the likelihood of hospitalizations and complications.
The following six self-care practices are ways providers can encourage self-care among patients with diabetes:
1. Be Physically Active, Regularly
Regular physical activity or exercise has proven benefits and is shown to improve the health outcomes of patients with diabetes by helping to control blood sugar and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
The American Diabetes Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, based on a patient’s individual abilities. An active lifestyle can include traveling, enjoying a hobby, or working full time. Patients should work with their health care providers to develop an exercise and lifestyle plan that works for their specific needs.
2. Reduce and Manage Stress
Physical or emotional stress can have a negative effect on a patient’s diabetes management. Stress can cause changes in blood glucose levels and interfere with medication adherence.
Stress relief looks different to every patient. Helping patients to identify their stressors and develop appropriate coping skills has proven to contribute to better health outcomes. Some common stress reducers include deep breathing exercises, yoga, gardening, and meditation.
3. Maintain Social Relationships
Patients with active social relationships, whether family, caregivers or friends, tend to better manage their diabetes and have improved health outcomes.
Family and friends can provide motivation and emotional support to patients in a variety of ways. By offering emotional support, helping to monitor blood sugar (glucose) levels and medication adherence, friends and family reinforce healthy actions.
4. Maintain a Healthy Diet
One of the key self-care tools for diabetes management is healthy eating. A balanced diet helps stabilize glucose levels and provides necessary nutrients. Patients with diabetes should work with a registered dietitian or diabetes educator to create a specific healthy eating plan.
Meal planning is a common tool that involves portion control and balancing calories, carbohydrates, and lipids (fats) intake.
5. Take a Collaborative Approach to Diabetes Management
Patients with diabetes can benefit from a holistic approach that includes the coordination of care between all health care providers.
Regular dental, ophthalmology, and podiatry appointments can help identify issues early, ensure a healthy lifestyle, and avoid potential complications like increased blood pressure, blindness, or amputations of limbs. Behavioral or mental health can assist with developing coping mechanisms for stressful situations.
*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.
6. Monitor Blood Glucose Levels Daily
Effective diabetes management begins with the patient monitoring their blood glucose levels daily. Glucose levels provide valuable information about the effects of patients’ diets, physical activity, and medication on blood sugar levels.
Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs), like Eversense CGM, provide patients the ease and convenience of ongoing glucose monitoring without the repeated finger pricks or need for a logbook.
Encouraging patients to adhere to their medication regime, monitor their blood glucose levels daily, and participate in other self-care strategies, such as those discussed above, can have a positive impact on the lives and health of patients with diabetes.
Also Read – Why Home Aligners Have Increased In Popularity
Interested in helping your patients effectively manage their glucose levels? Looking for more information on the Eversense Continuous Glucose Monitors? Become an Eversense provider.
Colberg, S. R., et al. (2016). Physical activity/exercise and diabetes: A position statement of the American Diabetes Association. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/39/11/2065
Statistics about diabetes. (2018). http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/
Delamater, A. M. (2006). Improving patient adherence. https://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/24/2/71