Caring for someone with diabetes (for family and friends)
Not everyone with diabetes requires specific caring for, but certain people, like the very young and old, may need help and support with managing their diabetes. When you are caring for someone with diabetes, you can help them more if you understand the condition. You may need to provide both physical and emotional support, while at the same time encouraging independence.
When caring for someone it is important that the right medications are given at the right time, in the right dosage, via the right route, to the right person.
But when dealing with diabetes that is not all. There are various things that impact blood glucose levels (BGLs), including: the type and amount of food consumed, physical activity, stress, illness, certain medications… even the weather can impact BGLs! A GP Management or Care Plan can help guide the care you provide.
The Ups and Downs
Both high and low blood glucose levels can cause mood swings. High levels can make one feel extremely tired, which can make the person cranky. Low blood glucose levels can affect inhibitions and increase emotional responses which can be expressed as irrational anxiety, irritability, silliness or anger. It is therefore important to be able to recognise the symptoms of both high (https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/hyperglycaemia) and low BGLs (https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/hypoglycaemia).
Sometimes people with diabetes can become anxious or depressed. This makes it harder for them to manage their diabetes. If you’re worried about the person you care for, you might encourage them to seek help.
When caring for a child with diabetes you will have to bear in mind that type 1 diabetes is more common in kids and that every developmental stage has its own challenges and rewards. There are some very helpful resources for carers of children living with type 1 diabetes on this website: https://as1diabetes.com.au/information-for-parents-of-children-living-with-type-1-diabetes/.
The older we get the higher the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Approximately 50% of people with diabetes in Australia are over the age of 65. Age can make some aspects of diabetes management tricky and if you are looking for further resources to help an elderly person with diabetes you may like to check out this page: https://www.ndss.com.au/older-people.
Top Tips for Carers:
- Look after yourself: lead by example by getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly.
- Be careful if handling sharps. Sharps are medical devices that penetrate the skin and are used in the home. They include syringes, pen needles, and finger prickers or lancets, and they should be disposed of in a sharps container. To locate your nearest community sharps disposal facility, or to get more information, visit safesharps.org.au
- To make sure that your needs, and those of the person you care for, can continue to be met in the future (even if they change) it is good to make some practical plans (https://www.carergateway.gov.au/planning-for-the-future).
You may feel helpless when a loved one is diagnosed with diabetes, but your strength and support can help this person get through the toughest times. Be positive, offer specific help, and learn as much about the disease as possible. These efforts may seem insignificant from your vantage point, but they can make a huge difference in someone’s life.
For more information see: https://www.carergateway.gov.au/diabetes.