THE DIABETES CAREGIVER GUIDE
The more you learn about diabetes, the easier your job as a caregiver will be.
Of the more than 14 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes, a small percentage have type 1 diabetes, which is caused by the body's failure to produce insulin, a hormone needed to regulate glucose in the body. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood, and all those with type 1 diabetes require insulin injection (individual shots or via pump) to live.
Much more common is type 2 diabetes, which typically occurs in overweight, sedentary adults who have a family history of the disease. More than 18 percent of Americans over the age of 60 have type 2 diabetes, notes the American Diabetes Association. Those with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance or insulin deficiency. Some take insulin; others manage their condition through diet or oral medications.
As the caregiver for someone with diabetes, find out everything you can about diabetes and how it affects the person in your care. "Diabetes is very individual," says Richard R. Rubin, PhD, CDE, president of healthcare and education, American Diabetes Association. "Some people take pills, some people take insulin injections, some take both," he says.
So what's your best first source of information? The person you care for. Then the person's healthcare provider, Dr. Rubin suggests. Also consider taking a class on diabetes at a local hospital.
Finally, accept your limits. "No one manages diabetes perfectly," says Dr. Rubin.
To help you manage your loved one's diabetes, check out these parts of Caring Today's special section, The Diabetes Caregiver:
- The Basics: 5 Symptoms to Look for; How to Check Blood Glucose; Separating Facts from Fiction
- Communication: Regarding Diet; Regarding Exercise; Regarding Drug Compliance
- Diet: Meal Planning; Diabetes and Obesity; Sugar Substitutes
- Health Conditions: Circulation; Dementia; Foot Health; Heart Disease/Stroke; Oral Health; Vision
- Insulin: How to Administer It; What It Does; Is It Necessary?; Non-Insulin Drug Therapy
- The Medical Team: Primary Medical Team; Secondary Medical Team; Dealing with Multiple Doctors
- Juvenile Diabetes: The Early Years; Tweens and Teens; Working with Schools and Camps; How to Munch a Healthy Lunch; Build on Kid Power