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  Parkview Adventist Medical Center

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Diabetes on a Budget

By Alice Willard- Michaelís, RN, CDE, Diabetes Program Coordinator
Parkview Adventist Medical Center

So you have diabetes? Managing your disease effectively can be expensive. Here are some tips for staying healthy on a limited budget.

  1. Check with your insurance company to see what is covered. Typically, blood glucose testing meters, blood glucose testing strips, lancets and in some cases medication are covered with a co-pay.  However each insurance plan is different and some may have a deductible or co-insurance requirement.  Often your diabetes educator can provide you with a blood glucose testing meter as well.  Recording your blood glucose helps  teach you to effectively manage diabetes.
  2. Ask your health insurance provider if diabetes education is covered.  Many insurance companies including Medicare and Mainecare cover or partially cover diabetes education with some stipulations. Look for an education program that has earned American Diabetes Association Recognition. Diabetes education is a highly effective use of your time and resources and can end up saving you money by teaching you how to live a healthier life with diabetes.  Ask your physician for a referral. You need to become an expert at managing diabetes.
  3. Remember that if you are overweight even a ten-pound weight loss can be helpful in managing your blood glucose levels.  Set achievable goals. Once you have lost ten pounds you may decide to lose more weight. Take a look at your portion sizes. Most people do fine with eating three meals a day and not snacking. There may be a rare exception due to certain medications where snacking is needed.
  4. Think 100% whole grains (the store brand is fine), fruits and veggies (fresh or frozen), look for produce on sale and in season or store brands of frozen items. Consider planting a vegetable garden. Lean protein, tofu, beans, veggie burgers, soymilk, or skim milk and a small amount of monounsaturated fat like olive oil provide healthy nutrition. Also, remember to drink eight glasses of water a day.
  5. Bring your lunch to work to save money and provide a healthier alternative.
  6. When travelling, bring a cooler or backpack packed with healthy foods.
  7. Have a multi vitamin pill daily (store brand is fine).
  8. Exercise, that dreaded word. Well it is the key to blood glucose control. Just make sure to get your physician’s approval and start gradually.  Walking is fine, but be prepared to walk daily and dress for the weather.  A good goal is 30 to 60 minutes a day.  It can be done in increments or all at once.  If you’d rather stay inside, join a health club.  Many are not as expensive as you think and some offer scholarships and discounts for seniors or those with low incomes.  Some people with mobility issues or foot problems will need to swim or use a stationery bike, as these are non-weight bearing. For those unable to exercise, simple stretching exercises can be helpful.
  9. Consider joining a weight management program to help you lose weight and stick with it.  Although many programs charge a fee, the potential benefits significantly outweigh the costs.
  10.  If you are having trouble getting motivated, try to figure out why.  Remember that depression is prevalent among people with diabetes.  Depression can sabotage your best efforts at self-care, so talk with your physician if you are experiencing overwhelming sadness.  When you are depressed, you may be less productive and less able to work. 

The bottom line is, do what works for you. Treating diabetes can be very expensive. Some people will need medication to lower blood sugars. But managing diabetes with lifestyle changes in diet, exercise habits and mental outlook can put money back in your pocket.

Alice Willard MichaelsAlice Willard-Michaels, RN, is a Certified Diabetes Educator at Parkview Adventist Medical Center in Brunswick.  She can be reached at 207-373-2214. Parkview Adventist Medical Center 's Living with Diabetesprogram provides valuable information and support to help you manage your diabetes and live a happier, healthier life.  Our Living with DiabetesProgram follows the Maine Diabetes Prevention and Control Program guidelines, and is certified by the American Diabetes Association. Many insurance companies cover the cost of this program, including Medicare and Medicaid.


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