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Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, a care plan can help you identify how you’ll treat your condition. This plan can serve as a roadmap to managing your condition.

Ideally, a care plan helps you identify how you will manage your diabetes daily, whom to call if you have concerns, and goals to improve your overall health.

Keep reading to learn more about what your plan should include, plus tips for building an ideal care plan for diabetes.

Diabetes management requires a balance of healthy eating, regular physical activity, and blood sugar monitoring.

Your diabetes care plan should include your blood sugar management goals and methods, such as insulin dosages, device settings, and medications.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines a diabetes care plan based on your daily, monthly, and other regular-interval activities. The daily parts of your diabetes care plan should include:

Points Considerations
Blood sugar checks • How often will you check your blood sugar?
• What is your desired blood sugar range?
• How will you correct high or low blood sugars?
• When do you call your doctor for blood sugar results?
Medications • What are the medications you take daily to manage your diabetes?
• How will you manage low blood sugars (e.g., will you carry glucose tablets)?
• At what times of day will you take your diabetes medications?
• What happens if you accidentally skip a medication dose?
Food • What is your daily carbohydrate recommendation?
• What are some foods you can eat that keep your blood sugars in target range?
• If you can’t eat, how do you adjust your insulin or medications?
Physical activity • What is your daily goal for physical activity?
• When do you adjust medication dosages or blood sugar for physical activity?
Foot checks • How or who will help you check your feet daily for cuts, sores, or swelling?
• When should you call your doctor about what you see?

Your diabetes care plan should also include longer-term checks and management plans. Examples of these include the following:

How often? Considerations and monitoring
Every 3 months • Get an A1C test if your doctor recommends it.
• Consult a doctor if you are in the beginning stages of diabetes management.
Every 6 months • Get a dental checkup.
• Get an A1C test if your blood sugar levels have been in range.
• Have your weight checked, review your care plan, and check your blood pressure.
Every 12 months (yearly) • Get your flu shot.
• Get a dilated eye examination.
• Get a cholesterol test.
• See a doctor for a complete foot check.

At every phase of your care plan, it’s important to identify when you should call your healthcare team and who else will help you manage your health daily or in case of an emergency.

While you don’t have to be perfect, managing your health requires a plan.

Organization and planning can make all the difference. A plan helps take some of the guesswork out of your daily activities and keeps you aware of when you should seek care.

You can make your plan and manage your diabetes in different ways. Examples include:

Research from 2020 suggests that using written (or online) plans helps improve clinical management of type 2 diabetes, including decreases in cholesterol, high blood pressure, and body mass index.

When you have type 1 diabetes, you must take insulin by either injection, subcutaneously through an insulin pump, or with an inhaled powder form.

Some people with type 2 diabetes use insulin in these ways, but others do not and can manage their condition through other medications, food choices, and exercise.

That’s why a type 1 diabetes care plan often differs from a type 2 care plan. A type 1 plan will almost always include instructions for insulin dosage and management.

Because you are taking insulin and essentially calculating how your body might perform that same task if it could, there is more risk of both low blood sugars (hypoglycemia) and rebound high blood sugars (hyperglycemia). A diabetes care plan for type 1 diabetes should include hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia management strategies.

An important part of your diabetes care plan is how you use the supplies and medications you have. Tracking how often you need to get refills can help you avoid being without necessary medications.

You may wish to create a section for supplies in your care plan that includes the following:

Supplies Considerations
insulin • What type(s) of insulin do you use?
• How much insulin do you take?
• When do you take this insulin?
• How often do you need medication refills?
medications • What medication(s) do you use?
• When do you use them?
• How often do you need refills?
• Who obtains your refills (are they mailed to you or do you need to call your pharmacy or doctor)?
continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and insulin pumps • What brand is your insulin monitor/pump?
• What are the device settings, such as insulin doses and carb ratios?
• Where do you keep the instructions?
• Are there different CGM supplies you need to use this device?
• Does the CGM use a mobile app, and what are the log-in settings?
• How often do you change its position?
• What is your backup plan for insulin injections if the pump fails or stops working?
lancets and testing supplies • What brand is your fingerstick glucose meter?
• How many test strips, alcohol swabs, and lancets do you get at a time?
• How often do you clean your meter?
• What type of batteries does your meter take? Do you have extra batteries to replace them?
• How and when do you obtain additional testing supplies?

These are just some examples of the considerations you can make surrounding your diabetes management supplies.

Several specialists may be involved in your diabetes care. These may include:

  • a certified diabetes care and education specialist, formerly known as a diabetes educator
  • a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant
  • an exercise specialist, such as a personal trainer
  • an eye doctor
  • a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or counselor
  • a pharmacist
  • a podiatrist
  • a registered dietitian or nutritionist

Your family and friends are also an important part of your care team.

When you have diabetes, you can experience episodes of high and low blood sugar. When this occurs, you may not be able to care for yourself.

It’s a good idea to share your diabetes care plan with a trusted co-worker, school nurse, or other individual who could help you if you need medical attention (even if it’s just explaining that you have diabetes and how you treat it).

What is a 504 plan for diabetes care in school?

If you or a loved one is in school and have diabetes, you are protected by section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to create a 504 plan. This plan ensures that the school provides a medically safe environment and fair treatment. The ADA provides sample 504 plans, and the school may have examples as well.

Your diabetes care plan isn’t just for an emergency. You may also need school or work contacts to know your plan if you need extra help or time. Examples could include:

  • letting a cafeteria or meal plan know you need low carbohydrate foods or are counting carbohydrates
  • making sure you have regular breaks to check your blood sugar and inject insulin (if needed)
  • identifying a refrigerator where you can store your meals or insulin (if needed) safely

Employment rights can also be a big issue when it comes to diabetes care, and Americans have many different employment rights via the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Some of those rights under federal law might include questions relating to the following:

  • What are reasonable accommodations at work?
  • Do I have a right to medical leave to take care of my diabetes?
  • Can my employer require me to get a medical examination because of my diabetes?
  • What if my employer fires me over my diabetes management?

The ADA is a key organization that addresses employment and school rights for the Diabetes Community, and it has an entire division aimed at legal advocacy for those who might be facing these workplace or school situations.

Often, elements of these resources provided by the ADA are found in diabetes care plans — especially for those living with type 1 diabetes.

When you have diabetes, you require medications and supplies. But you may have insurance limitations or plans that require a certain pharmacy, refill schedule, or even writing on prescriptions to ensure your insurance will reimburse you.

Your insurance policy should include an explanation of benefits (EOB). This is often a very long document, and it should describe your coverage for several conditions and medications. You can also contact your insurance company if you have specific questions.

Some aspects related to insurance and diabetes care planning include:

  • How often can I get my prescriptions refilled?
  • How do I receive my medicines? Does my plan require online ordering and delivery or can I visit my local pharmacy?
  • How often do I need to get new prescriptions written by my doctor for my medications?
  • Do I need my doctor to certify a need for certain diabetes medications, testing equipment, or supplies? What wording does the insurance company need to accept the prescription?

Understandably, navigating insurance with diabetes can be overwhelming. Remember that your doctor’s office navigates insurance on a daily basis and can be a great source of guidance to help you make sure you have the supplies and medications you need when you need them.

Diabetes care plans can improve your health by helping you understand how you’re managing your condition and where you could potentially improve.

They provide a roadmap for yourself and your loved ones to how you will manage and treat your diabetes.

Talk with your doctor about how you can create a diabetes management plan that will best benefit you.