2016 News

Managing Type 2 Diabetes

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By VHA

Caring for someone with Type 2 diabetes can be very challenging. Though every situation and person are unique, there are some common steps you can take as a caregiver to help your loved one cope.

To help you do this, you both need to learn as much as you can about Type 2 diabetes and its complications, including heart disease, blindness, nerve damage and kidney problems’ and signs of low blood glucose (sugar), such as confusion, which can sometimes be mistaken for other age-related problems. You should try to go with your loved one to doctor’s appointments to ensure you have the most up-to-date information on treatment and your family member’s condition.

Keeping Blood Sugar Balanced

As a caregiver, you can encourage your loved one to stay healthy and:

Eat healthy meals and snacks to prevent complications, maintain blood sugar levels and keep cholesterol low (diabetes carries a higher risk for stroke and heart attack).

Quit smoking which again raises the risk of stroke, heart attack and other diabetes-related complications.

Get physically active on a regular basis whether it’s walking, going to a class or swimming, to help reach or maintain a healthy weight and keep blood sugar levels more stable.

Visit the doctor, dentist and optometrist regularly to check for any complications caused by diabetes. There may be changes to medication that need to be made by the doctor. If blood sugar levels are off, they can cause problems in the mouth and teeth that need to be treated by a dentist. Diabetes can also cause blindness if not managed properly, so regular visits to the optometrist are important.

Check blood sugar levels regularly to ensure your loved one is in their target range.

Take prescribed diabetes medications to manage the condition.

Take care of their feet. Foot problems are common in those with diabetes and can lead to serious concerns. Make sure your loved one (or you) checks their feet daily for cuts, blisters and ingrown nails and has the doctor conduct a foot exam at least once a year. Unusual marks or feelings in the legs or feet need to be seen by a doctor right away.

Communicate openly with you and the medical support team. Make sure your loved one knows you’re there to help, but also to support his or her independence. The more your family member knows about Type 2 diabetes, the more empowered and encouraged your loved one will feel to manage the disease and live a healthy lifestyle.