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Diabetes is one of the most widespread diseases in the U.S.—as much as 8.3 percent of the population has diabetes. But there are many things that can be done to prevent diabetes and if you're diabetic, you can make proactive lifestyle choices to help keep diabetes under control. In fact, diabetes is one disease that, with training, you can self-manage.
Learn About Your Diabetes
Your doctor and diabetes health providers will be able to help you understand how to treat and manage your diabetes. Don't hesitate to ask questions if you don't understand something. Fortunately, there is also plenty of educational material available to help you learn about your condition. There are dozens of websites about diabetes, and if you don't have a computer, you can get brochures sent to your home or go to the library for information.
You will receive diabetes supplies so that you can manage your own care between your doctor visits. You must closely watch your blood pressure and cholesterol—everyone should have healthy blood pressure and cholesterol readings, but it's especially critical for diabetes patients. This will reduce your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or other diabetes-related health problems.
The following are important tests your doctor will conduct regularly. An easy reminder is:
Know your diabetes ABCs:
- A is for the A1C test: The A1C test tells what your blood glucose level has been over the last three months. The goal for the majority of people is below 7.
- B is for Blood pressure: The goal for most people is 130/80.
- C is for Cholesterol: Goals are LDL ("bad" cholesterol) less than 100 and HDL ("good" cholesterol) is above 40.
Ask your doctor or health care provider what your test numbers are. You should also find out what you can do to reach your target numbers. Keep track of your visits and mark down your numbers each time to monitor your progress.
What Else Can I do to Manage My Diabetes?
If you are diabetic, there are many basic things you can do to avoid serious complications. Follow the guidelines below:
- Eat healthy: Everyone should the right foods and maintain a healthy weight, but it is especially important for diabetics to watch what they eat. Consult your doctor and other diabetes health care providers about your specific diet . Some general guidelines include:
- Fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products should be in your diet.
- Avoid saturated fats and trans fat. The government requires these contents to be listed on every packaged food item.
- Eat calcium-rich foods.
- Learn the fat, salt, and sugar limits. Avoid prepared foods that are high in sodium content.
- Exercise: You should have 30-60 minutes of physical activity several days a week.
- Reduce stress: Stress is hard on the body—it can raise your blood pressure and your blood glucose level.
Medicare Coverage for Diabetes Self-Management Training
Medicare helps diabetes patients manage their disease by paying for training programs that include an overall education about diabetes. The training also teaches you how to monitor your blood glucose levels, how diet and exercise can affect your diabetes, and insulin procedures.
You are eligible for Diabetes Self-Management Training if you follow these guidelines:You were diagnosed with diabetes You have diabetes and just became eligible for Medicare You've changed from not taking any diabetes medication to taking medication, or you changed from an oral diabetes medication to insulin
You're at risk for complications from diabetes if you have the following:Problems controlling your blood sugar, have been treated in an emergency room, or stayed overnight in a hospital Been diagnosed with eye disease related to diabetes Have foot problems, like lack of feeling, ulcers, deformities, or have had an amputation Been diagnosed with kidney disease related to diabetes
To get training, you must have a written order from your doctor. You doctor will give you information about where to find the diabetes self-management training by a certified program.
Medicare Part B
You will pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount after your yearly Medicare Part B deductible. For more information, go to www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
National Diabetes Prevention Program
In March, 2010, Congress passed legislation that is specifically for diabetes prevention. Part of this Act is the National Diabetes Prevention Program, which establishes intervention programs for people who are at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. This includes training and outreach programs that are offered in YMCAs and other organizations across the country. For information about programs in your area, check the Diabetes Public Health Source at http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes.
Doing Your Part
By working with your doctor and diabetes-management health providers, you have improved your chances of managing your diabetes. But you have to be an active partner—watch your diet, exercise, reduce stress, and do as many proactive things as you can to impact your health.
Educate yourself about your disease. Diabetes medical research constantly produces valuable information. Stay updated about what is currently being done to prevent and manage diabetes.