March 15, 2024

How to Care for Diabetes: A Guide for Families and Caregivers

Navigating the journey of diabetes care can be complex, but with the right knowledge and support, managing diabetes becomes more manageable. At US MED, we’re dedicated to empowering families and caregivers with essential insights on how to care for diabetes,…

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Home / Living with Diabetes / How to Care for Diabetes: A Guide for Families and Caregivers

Navigating the journey of diabetes care can be complex, but with the right knowledge and support, managing diabetes becomes more manageable. At US MED, we’re dedicated to empowering families and caregivers with essential insights on how to care for diabetes, especially for aging loved ones who face unique challenges with their condition.

No matter who you are, managing diabetes can be a challenge. If you have this disease, you must check your blood glucose levels regularly, plan nutritious meals, and keep track of your medication—just to name a few diabetes-related responsibilities.

But as you might expect, aging can throw a wrench into this process. Whether senior citizens have received a diabetes diagnosis late in life or they’ve been managing this disease for decades, they can often find living with diabetes to be a challenge.

The good news is that seniors can successfully control this disease and continue living a fulfilling life—with a bit of help, anyway. If you’re a caregiver for an aging loved one with diabetes, here’s everything you need to know about making it easier for them to manage this condition.

Helping Take Care of Aging Loved Ones with Diabetescaring-for-aging-parents-with-diabetes

When you’re helping an aging loved one manage diabetes, you need to:

Learn More About Their Diagnosis

Diabetes is more common than ever these days, and according to the CDC, over a quarter of people aged 65 or older have this disease. Still, diabetes is surprisingly misunderstood. Widespread diabetes-related misconceptions include these so-called “facts”:

  • People with diabetes can never eat sweets
  • If you have diabetes you need to follow  a restrictive diet
  • Eating sugar can directly cause diabetes
  • Exercising with diabetes is unsafe

With that in mind, it’s best to assume you don’t know everything about diabetes management and take steps to expand your knowledge. Start by consulting with your loved one’s doctor—they’re the best possible source of information on this disease. You can also get advice from a broad selection of reputable diabetes organizations.

Show Your Support

Managing diabetes can be an isolating process if you don’t have anyone to lean on, which means supporting your loved one on an emotional level is crucial. You can even help them feel like they’re part of a team by making lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking, getting physical activity, and eating a healthier diet) along with them.

While this is undoubtedly a nice thing to do for your loved one, it can also improve your own health in more ways than one. Genetics is a significant risk factor for diabetes—if your loved one is a relative, these steps can reduce your type 2 diabetes risk.

You can also make life easier for the senior citizen with diabetes in your life by:

  • Going to appointments with them.

To manage diabetes, people must carefully follow doctor’s orders regarding medication dosage, blood sugar tracking, and so on. Of course, this can be overwhelming for anyone—especially seniors. By attending appointments along with your loved one, you’ll be able to provide moral support and help them keep track of their diabetes management needs.

  • Assisting them with medication management. senior-with-diabetes-and-support-system

Depending on the type of diabetes they have and additional factors, your loved one may use insulin (with a syringe, pen, or pump), other medications, or a combination of both. Ask their doctor how you can help, and explore organization options like alarms, charts, and pill boxes. 

  • Gathering their diabetes documentation.

If your loved one has diabetes, they have a lot of information to remember. If you put all this information in one easy-to-access place and update it as needed, you’ll make life considerably easier for them (and you).

Understand (and Overcome) Frustrations

Diabetes management is a time-consuming process on its own, and it’s not like people living with this disease can put other parts of their lives on pause. Naturally, the combination of everyday stress and stressors specific to diabetes can make life with this condition frustrating.

Unfortunately, stress can also affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, making it harder to keep this disease under control. You can help lower your loved one’s stress level by giving them a chance to talk openly about their frustrations when they need to vent. Along with that, relaxing activities like walking, gardening, meditating, or watching a movie can make it easier for them to unwind.

Mood swings are another fact of life among people with diabetes—and not solely due to the stress tied to diabetes management. Changing blood sugar levels can result in feelings of confusion, anxiety, restlessness, and irritability. The best way to combat this is to work with your loved one to improve their blood glucose control.

Know Where to Get Additional Support

If the senior in your life needs further assistance with diabetes management, a diabetes support group might be just what they’re looking for. These groups are an excellent place for people with diabetes to talk about their struggles with this disease and how they manage diabetes in their everyday lives. 

Still, your loved one with diabetes probably isn’t the only one who needs support. The fact is, being a caregiver can get stressful—and ignoring this stress can cause problems before you know it. If you think you might be at risk of burnout, take the first step by talking to a friend, relative, counselor, or someone else you trust. Joining a support group of your own might also be a good idea.

Learn More About Diabetes Tips and Management

By now, you should have a broad understanding of how to care for an aging loved one with diabetes—but there’s always more to know about diabetes management. If you want to keep reading about this process, you’re in the right place: our blog is full of valuable information on living with diabetes. Along with that, US MED can make diabetes management easier for your loved one by shipping them the diabetes supplies they need. Place your first order today!

Written by: US MED Staff

Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist Clinically Reviewed by: Shirley DeLeon, RD, CDCES

Resources:
https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics-report/diagnosed-undiagnosed-diabetes.html

 

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