As you begin to manage care for an aging loved one with diabetes, the demands can seem overwhelming -- from monitoring blood glucose levels and diet and exercise to meeting with health care professionals. Older people may also have other health problems and complications that may make it even more difficult.
Here are some ways to get started:
- Learn about diabetes. Educate yourself, and ask your loved one to explain things to you. Attend a diabetes education class together.
- Watch for depression. If your family member seems sad, encourage him or her to talk to a health care provider, according to the American Diabetes Association. Depression is more common in people with diabetes, and when they are depressed they may have more trouble sticking with their diabetes care routine.
- Evaluate your finances. The cost of care giving can add up quickly. Get a handle on your own resources and those available at your workplace including time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
- Learn to recognize low blood glucose and how to treat it. Some symptoms, such as confusion and disorientation, can be mistaken for conditions such as dementia. If your loved one displays such signs, test blood glucose level immediately, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association.
- Get to know the medical team. Go along on appointments, and ask what symptoms indicate it is time to call for medical help. Ask about others who should be on the medical team, such as pharmacists, nurses, dietitians and social workers. A pharmacist can be particularly helpful if multiple medications are needed for various conditions.
- Offer to check their feet regularly. Diabetics are prone to foot problems, which can have serious consequences. Daily inspections for cracks, cuts or ingrown nails are important. And bending at that angle may be difficult for seniors.
- Have appropriate meals ready. Following a healthy meal plan is important. Make sure prepared meals and snacks are available, or arrange for a meal-delivery service.