Yes, it’s hard work, but staying on top of your diabetes care pays off big-time. Here’s how to effectively, efficiently take charge of your health.
Ask questions. To help stay in control of your diabetes, ask your doctor about what tests and checks you need—and what the results mean. “I ask my doctors questions—what tests are being done, what are my results, the target goals, and whether the American Diabetes Association (ADA) targets have changed,” says Sharon L., a Maryland resident with diabetes.
Simplify scheduling. Several tests and checks should be done at regular diabetes-care appointments every three or six months, including blood pressure and glycosylated hemoglobin (A1C). Other tests should be done annually, such as blood lipids and measuring kidney function. All of this managing can feel overwhelming, so use simple shortcuts to help you remember. “I use my calendar from the previous year and my doctor’s reminder notices to trigger me to schedule annual tests,” Sharon says. Another reminder trick: Schedule appointments on or near easy-to-remember birthdays or anniversaries.
Ask about treatments. Whether it’s eye, foot, kidney or other common issues, identifying—and treating—problems early can slow the progression of complications. For example, if an annual dilated-eye exam (recommended once a year for people with diabetes) shows damage to your retinas, laser therapy may reduce the development of severe vision loss. Talk with your doctor about how to prevent and how to treat common complications of diabetes.
Track results and follow trends. Compare results from visit to visit and year to year to assess your overall diabetes care. To start, ask your doctor if your medical chart displays your test results over time and, if so, request a copy. If not, start your own: simply use a notebook to record your results. Remember to bring your notebook with you to every appointment.
Although your doctor should and probably does track your numbers, those numbers belong to you. Know them, use them and strive to improve them as part of your diabetes care.