Choosing diabetic strips and meters

diabetic-strips-and-metersProfessionals say that the best blood glucose meter for an individual is the one they will actually use, and this means, the one which will encourage effective diabetes management. This is why the user-friendliness of each meter matters; it has to be a device a loved one feels comfortable with. Caregivers can help a loved one pick the testing option they prefer by analyzing some simple factors. 
Price matters, and even when insurance will cover diabetic testing meters, caregivers should still know what the final out-of-pocket expenses will be. Regardless of the cost of the meter that is chosen, caregivers must not overlook the expense of buying the testing strips. While insurance could pay for the meter, it’s a possibility the coverage won’t extend to the strips. And strips are the most expensive part of the testing process. If the strips cost twice as much as another brand, but the meter is cheaper, it may not be a real deal in the long run. Individually packaged strips usually cost more than those in a container. Be aware of how many strips your loved one uses per month when you buy as the strips have an expiration date to consider.  
People often find certain testing devices easier to use than others. Numbers are bigger on some, and blood easier to put onto the strips with others. Certain meters must be coded while others have no code numbers, which are used to calibrate the meter with test strips to ensure accuracy. 

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Talking meters are even available for those with sight impairments. Some models come with backlights that can help if nighttime readings are necessary. For those with motor challenges, attached strip drums or disks help a loved one who struggles to handle the individual, tiny (and often slippery) traditional strips. 
Some blood glucose testing meters require a small drop of blood while others use larger amounts. With technological advances, immediate computer downloading from some devices makes sharing results with physicians easy. Today’s meters save anywhere from 100 to 450 results, and a few more than 1,000. A feature like note-taking allows a loved one (or caregiver) to record food, exercise and medications to reveal the bigger picture behind their glucose level readings. 
All meters in the country are held to certain accuracy standards by the FDA. There’s really no personal way to determine if one is more accurate than the other. This is any consumer’s top concern, however, it’s best for a loved one work with their diabetic professional to determine the best option for them. 
Finger pricks remain the industry standard while the choice of an alternative site monitor allows for samples to be taken from less painful areas than the finger, but is not as accurate, especially when glucose levels rise and fall fast.
Technology will continue to offer new options for diabetics needing blood glucose monitors. Infrared, laser light and electric current technologies are just a few of the non-invasive possibilities for the future. Caregivers can be on the lookout for new options, but until then, choose the best one for their loved one and keep those blood sugar numbers on target. 


Today’s Caregiver magazine (, launched in 1995, is the first national magazine for all family and professional caregivers. Each issue includes articles on vital caregiving issues and caregiving resources. Cover interviews include Debbie Reynolds, Dixie Carter, Valerie Harper, Della Reese and Clay Aiken, among many others. ©, Inc.