Cutting diabetes' costs across board

Diabetes is an expensive disease: financially, physically and emotionally.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the per capita annual costs of health care in 2007 for people with diabetes was more than $11,000 with more than $6,000 (57 percent) of that cost directly attributed to diabetes care.

With the financial atmosphere today, we all need to stretch our dollars. This month let's talk about how you can continue to live healthily with diabetes in the midst of these uncertain times.

If you take medications, ask if a generic version is available since it will cost less. For the best effectiveness, take medication as it is prescribed (with food, before meals, etc.) and don't skip doses.

BLOOD GLUCOSE test strips cost 75 cents to $1 each, test your blood when the results will give useful information, such as before eating in the morning, two hours after eating a meal or before exercising.

To ensure a sufficient size blood drop for an effective test, wash your hands in warm water to dilate the blood vessels in your hands. For a complete record of your results and to watch for trends, enter your tests into a log. Ask your health care provider how often you must test your blood.

Nutrition is a continual challenge for someone with diabetes. Eat food that is in season to enjoy peak flavor and nutrition while controlling cost. Double a recipe and freeze half of it for later; it will provide a more nutritious and less expensive meal than purchasing frozen meals.

FOR MEAL ideas, my favorite magazine is Healthy Cooking, published by Taste of Home. Each recipe has a nutritional summary and each issue focuses on in-season foods to prevent mealtime boredom.

For snacks, steer clear of the expensive 100-calorie packets of preservative-filled foods. Enjoy Mother Nature food that is wrapped in its own label.

Exercise is crucial to good glucose control, and you should aim to get at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise on days that you eat. Walking is great exercise; you can do it anywhere and you needn't buy expensive equipment.

WITH THE upcoming holidays, start giving hints that you would prefer money toward a fitness center pass instead of something that you don't need. Exercise can help to delay the onset of diabetes complications by keeping your blood glucose levels under control, so get moving.

A diagnosis of diabetes can be emotionally draining because you think that you are alone with your concerns. To offset that loneliness, attend a local diabetes support group. You will find strength in learning from others who are facing similar dilemmas.

For good diabetes control in these trying financial times, you need to be a wise shopper, eat healthy food, keep moving and share your concerns with others. The investment returns will be worth it.

Reach Susan Sorensen at

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