8 Tips For Managing Diabetes on a Dime

8 Tips For Managing Diabetes on a Dime

One big concern for many persons with diabetes is finding the means for managing their condition on limited resources and limited income. It can be a scary thing when one has to make the choice between paying for rent, food, or medications.

During my first years of diagnosis, I struggled a lot making ends meet. These periods of necessity and uncertainty gave me a great perspective on how to build a safety net for myself. I’ve learned more than a few lessons on how to be savvy with what I have; and that’s key. Here is a list of tips on diabetes survival strategies that worked for me:

Plan your meals

A little bit of protein, and a LOT of veggies makes any meal go a long way. When there’s not much you can afford, buy meals which you can ‘doctor up’ and ‘healthify’ with simple alterations. Buy produce when it’s in season, buy frozen produce, buy meats when they’re on sale and in bulk so you can divide them up, and don’t do all your grocery shopping in one supermarket. Shop farmers’ markets when you can, if they’re available.

Identify your community’s medical resources

Often, communities have free clinics for the needy of various kinds (dental, vision, reproductive health, general care). They may even offer diabetes testing supplies, various prescriptions like birth control (often necessary when one has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), etc. Many pay for your first prescription, while you become responsible for any refills. Some even pay for your entire prescriptions. If there’s a major university hospital nearby, they might also have patient assistance programs and resources. Call your local Department of Health to ask what’s available in your area – they usually have a list.

Use the internet to identify programs

During those years of need, I got a free eye exam from EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The program partners with local eye doctors willing to give these exams. My local doctor, concerned about my diabetes, gave me more than just an eye exam for free, including a free dilation exam.

Use the internet to find coupons and free or cheap meters and supplies

From free diabetes alert bracelets and glucose gels to free meters, you can find a lot out there. Sometimes, a manufacturer might print out a coupon for say, $35... but then a local pharmacy might put that meter on sale for $29. Your meter will end up free. Keep away from big retailers who hardly have any sales or deals. Don’t spend $75 on a glucose meter when you can usually get one for free from the manufacturer (often on their website), or for less on a big sale, somewhere else. Some big-box stores even have their own generic meters and strips which are extremely affordable for a box of 100 strips.

File for medicaid

Many pharmaceutical companies have patient assistance programs, but they require those who qualify to have a Medicaid rejection letter, along with a doctor’s indications of your prescription and testing needs, which you can get at a free clinic or a sliding scale clinic.

Identify the various food pantries in your area

If your dollars aren’t stretching enough, many communities have various pantries you can visit, as well as access to healthy foods, such as fresh produce and fruit, whole grains, and lean meats.

Look for a community garden in your neighborhood

If you don’t have access to a yard, or a patio or deck to grow your own food, some communities have co-op sponsored garden plots you can ‘claim’ for the summer, and plant your own produce.

These are just some ideas on how to survive managing diabetes on low resources, and often no insurance. It’s certainly not an ideal situation, but with a little bit of creativity, and a lot of footwork, we can help our dollars stretch farther, so we can focus on other things.

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