Caregiving & Your Diabetic Love One?

Chronic disease, like Type -2 diabetes is a conversation that should go on and on, and on. Why? Because a chronic disease like diabetes, is costly. Many of our elders are faced with diabetes and its effects have created an urgent need to pay attention to the progressive condition. The end results of how diabetes can affect an individual and a family can be overwhelming. You do know when you are living or taking care of someone with diabetes, you can look at it as you having it as well. Collectively changing behaviors in the household can impact the overall care of someone with diabetes.

Diabetes can cause debilitating conditions like kidney disease, vision loss, pain, arthritis, skin discoloration, financial strain, and without proper management, even death. As a nurse, and a health care agent of change, I always focus on preventable health problems. Keep in mind, we have no control over genetics. However, if we know that our genetic make-up has a history of chronic disease, we should see the red flag. Having diabetes is not the end of the story. You can live well with diabetes.

Do Not Let Diabetes Run Life! You Run it!

There are ways you can work to manage and cope with a chronic disease like diabetes as a caregiver. First, it starts with a mindset shift. You must want to educate yourself and share any and all information with your loved-one. There is a lot of information that goes with the care of a diabetic person. We don’t have the space here, to unravel it all. But the simple side of the complexities’ and raw truth of diabetes starts with behavior modification and a cognitive awareness of what should become a daily practice. You may ask what are the main areas that if you focus on, you will have a solid handle of what to do caring for a diabetic love one.

**There are five areas that we will highlight:

**Quarterly doctor visits with lab work

**Nutritional health

**Medication management

**Foot care

**Support groups

Most of these are self-explanatory. One of the main labs that should be done quarterly is Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) Test. The hemoglobin A1c test tells if you are cheating in the management of diabetes. Many think that they can be good a week before going to the doctor. This lab test tells on you!

The general rules around nutritional health is to choose healthy carbohydrates, high-fiber foods, fish and “good” fats. Saturated fats are a killer. You know, the fats in cakes, cookies, and Eskimo Pies.

History…The Eskimo Pie was invented by a high school teacher by the name of Christian Kent Nelson in either 1919 or 1920. He claimed to have come up with the idea for the Eskimo Pie when he witnessed a young boy trying to decide whether or not he wanted to purchase ice cream or candy, but only had enough money to purchase one. After watching this struggle, he decided to combine the two. This original invention was called the I-Scream-Bar(Kietzman, 2003).

I think I dated myself…LOL!! Moving on!

If you are on medication, please ensure they are taken as prescribed. Never run out of your medication. Some will take pills by mouth, while others may need insulin. If on insulin, please rotate subcutaneous injection sites.

Foot problems most often happen when there is nerve damage, also called neuropathy. This can cause tingling, pain or weakness in the feet. It can also cause a loss of feelings in the feet. Injuries can occur and may not be noticed if attention to the feet is absent. Poor blood flow and improper footwear can cause this. Do not wear tight footwear and inspect the feet daily!

Finally, sometimes you just need to talk to someone. Joining a caregiving support group to vent, cry, educate yourself and help others is a wonderful thing to do! Caregivers, you can manage your loved-one’s diabetes by being proactive. It is important. It is necessary! You can do it! Until next time, Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate is thinking of you.

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