A treatment plan is like a road map that outlines what steps you need to take and when. Your plan also covers which team members will assist with each step. Your plan will help all the members of your team work together and stay informed about how your treatment is working.
The diabetes plan that you and your doctor or diabetes educator work out should include the following:
- a list of short- and long-term goals
- a prioritized list of the changes you'll need to make, such as stopping smoking, being more active or losing weight
- a list of medications, including how, why and when to take them
- advice on eating and meal planning from a qualified diabetes educator
- a list of available diabetes-management classes for you and your family
- a set of instructions to teach you: how to check and record your blood glucose levels, what to do if you have a low blood glucose reaction, and how to test your urine for ketones.
- guidelines for how often and when to see your doctor
- a schedule for when you need to see other specialists, if you need to, including an eye doctor, foot doctor and dentist
- guidelines and plans for how to respond when you are sick
- a birth control and pregnancy plan for women
You'll want to begin work on your treatment plan at your first visit with your doctor. While your doctor plays a big part in developing your plan, you need to be involved, too. Your plan needs to be individualized to fit your lifestyle, cultural background, likes and dislikes. It should take into consideration your:
- school or work schedule
- eating patterns and preferences
- level of physical activity, including any physical limitations
- family and social situation, including your support system
- cultural background, including any food restrictions and food preferences
- problems from diabetes or other health problems
If members of your healthcare team make a suggestion that you know will not work given your personal situation, tell them. Your ability to succeed improves greatly when you have a say in the plan and help set the goals. Your team can better support you when they know what you are thinking and what your obstacles are. Once they know that, they can help develop a management plan that fits your needs. If you stay quiet when a team member suggests something that you think you can't do, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Your willingness to be honest and direct with your healthcare providers allows them to give you the benefit of their experiences with diabetes. After all, they see hundreds of people who have the disease, and only you know about your own personal habits and lifestyle.
Since a big part of managing your diabetes is up to you, it's key that you understand all the parts of your treatment plan. You also need to commit to making the changes you need to achieve the goals outlined in your treatment plan. Make sure the goals in your plan are things you think you can accomplish.
Written by award-winning health writer Bobbie Hasselbring
Reviewed by Beth Seltzer, MD
Last updated June 2008