By: Sherry Netherland, Director of Special Projects for Assisted Healthcare Services
According to data from the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. That’s 8.3% of the population.
Research on diabetics reveals the prevalence of the disease is weighted differently amongst various ethnic groups, with the highest prevalence occurring in non-Hispanic African-Americans (12.6%). The disease affects 7.1% of non-Hispanic whites, 8.4% of Asian Americans and 11.8% of Hispanics.
Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness for adults over 20 and the leading cause of kidney failure. More than 60% of people with diabetes will have nervous system damage (peripheral neuropathy) and more than 60% of non-traumatic amputations are a result of complications from diabetes.
And yet, diabetes is a controllable, manageable disease. With proper self-management and medical care, the majority of diabetics can live lives relatively free of health crises.
Key elements to successful diabetes treatment include:
- Physician directed care regarding dosages and timing of oral or injectable diabetes medications, including target values for blood glucose, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and weight.
- Regular exercise.
- Physician directed advice on proper nutrition, including types of food, meal planning and appropriate snacks, and the timing of meals.
Instructions for Diabetes Daily Foot Check:
- Check the tops, bottoms and between your toes. Use a mirror to check the bottom of your feet if necessary. Look for:
- Skin color changes
- Pain in your legs
- Ingrown or fungal toenails
- Corns or callouses
- Swelling of the foot or ankle
- Open sores that are slow to heal
- Dry cracks in the skin
- Wash your feet daily with mild soap and lukewarm water.
- Gently dry your feet, especially between the toes.
- Moisturize your feet (but not between the toes),
- Cut your toenails straight across, using toenail clippers with a straight edge. (It is easiest to do this after a shower or bath when the nails are the softest.) Avoid cutting into the corners.
Managing diabetes is about daily personal accountability. Diabetes must be taken seriously and attention must be paid to good nutrition, physical fitness, blood sugar monitoring, and foot care. You must be in partnership with your doctor. Keep careful records of your blood sugar and establish a good routine for yourself that is easy to maintain. Keep your doctor informed of any changes in your general health. Your doctor will adjust your regimen as appropriate. Most importantly, NEVER lie to your doctor. Ignoring symptoms associated with diabetes is a slippery slope to blindness, amputations and other medical complications including nerve damage and kidney disease.
Sherry Netherland is the Director of Special Projects for Assisted Healthcare Services, a Medicare certified, CHAP accredited home health agency with 7 branches in California and Arizona. She founded the Assisted Speakers Bureau and she speaks on a variety of healthcare related issues. To learn more about private duty nursing and how Assisted can help, www.assisted1.com/home_health_care.