Being diagnosed with diabetes is never an easy thing to come to terms with, and it doesn’t just affect the person who’s diagnosed – it affects you as their caregiver as well. Even though your loved one’s diagnosis adds more responsibility as a caregiver, this presents an opportunity for you and your loved one to become more health-conscious.
If you’re unsure of how you can help, WebMD provides tips on how to care for a loved one with diabetes.
Be Aware of Dietary Restrictions
Especially if your loved one was recently diagnosed with diabetes, it can be difficult to keep track of all their new dietary restrictions. Your loved one may be less than thrilled at this change, but disregarding these diabetic diet changes could have a serious impact on their overall health.
The following are a list of foods that your diabetic loved one should avoid:
- Foods high in saturated fats
- Foods containing trans fats
- Processed foods, grains and sweets
- Sweetened beverages
Support your loved one in making healthy food choices, and make a point to make meals together. Not only is it a great way to spend some quality time together, but it will also help your loved one understand which foods are best for a diabetic diet.
Diabetics are required to take many medications, and it is imperative that they take them at the right time. But first things first: make sure your loved one can actually give themselves the medication. For example, is your loved one able to open the pill bottle or give themselves insulin? A weekly or monthly pill calendar is a great reminder to take medications, but just be sure to check for any missed doses. Another useful tip is to always keep your loved one’s medications in the same convenient spot so they never have to go searching for them.
Even with the proper medications, emergencies or complications caused by diabetes can still happen. Create a plan with your loved one so you both know how to handle these situations should one arise.
Hypoglycemia vs. Hyperglycemia
When learning how to care for a loved one with diabetes, it is essential that you know how hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia differ.
Hypoglycemia means your loved one’s blood sugar is low. The symptoms may vary based on the individual, but the most common symptoms include confusion, dizziness, hunger, headaches, weakness and pale skin.
Hyperglycemia means your loved one’s blood sugar is high. Again the symptoms may vary, but headaches, extreme thirstiness, blurred vision, frequent urination, weight loss and fatigue are the most common symptoms.
If left untreated, both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia could lead to more serious conditions, so keep track of your loved one’s symptoms and the date/time it occurred to consult with a doctor.
Easy one, right? But just like any other medical condition, being told that you are diabetic can be very upsetting news to an older adult. A diabetes support group can be a great way for you and your loved one to get support from others who know exactly what you are experiencing.
Working with a health professional is one of the best ways for your loved one to manage diabetes, so help your loved one make doctor appointments (the more appointments you can go to, the better). As mentioned above, managing your loved one’s diet is essential, and promoting an active lifestyle can also go a long way in managing diabetes. Suggest that you and your loved one exercise together – it’s a simple way to promote both you and your loved one’s health.
If you’re still unsure of how to care for a loved one with diabetes, take WebMD’s Diabetes Assessment to get a customized report and tips for living healthier with diabetes.