Make Modifications

Small changes to your existing diabetes supplies can go a long way toward making insulin pens easier to use.

Magnifying devices that fit over a syringe not only make it easier to see those tiny numbers to get the right dose, they also enlarge the syringe making it simpler to hold, says Kent. One device you may want to check out: Becton Dickinson’s Magni-Guide Insulin Syringe Scale Magnifier

Placing a rubber pencil grip around an insulin pen can make it more manageable, Kent says. Small, hard-to-hold glucose monitors can be built up with foam.

Time it Right

Most people have a time of day when pain and stiffness are less of a problem; Kent recommends using that time to prepare up to a week’s worth of syringes. Prepared syringes can be stored in the refrigerator and warmed in the hands five or 10 minutes prior to injection. Avoid storing syringes with the needle facing down, which can cause particles to collect in and block the needle. You might want to use a sealable plastic container for this purpose.

Consider asking your doctor about using a 24-hour insulin product. Longer-lasting insulins can increase the time between injections, although not by much. Even if a product is promoted to last up to 24 hours, most people still need injections more than once a day, says Dr. Henry. “In the future there may be a two- three- or four-times-a-week injection,” he says. “That may happen fairly soon, but that is not today.”

Ask for Help

Enlist spouses or other family members to help prepare syringes, dial the dose on your insulin pen or even administer your shot when your hands are so are stiff and painful. If you don’t live with someone who can help, ask a friend, neighbor or family member to help prepare your syringes and be on call for times when you need extra help with your injections.

Still having trouble? Ask your doctor for a referral to a diabetes educator or occupational therapist who can help you find methods that work well for you, says Kent. To locate a professional, check out the following sites:  American Association of Diabetes Educators or the American Society of Hand Therapists.

Finally, Kent advises using your own creativity to figure out what works for you. “When patients come to me, I can give them ideas,” he says, “but it’s interesting to see what they come up with on their own.

See which glucose testers and other diabetes products have recieved the Arthritis Foundation's Ease of Use Commendation.