Caring for adults

Adults with type 1 diabetes have generally become used to self-managing their condition from an early age, but some, particularly those with learning difficulties or disabilities, or the elderly, will need some support.

Since they are fully dependent on insulin, it means they are at increased risk of developing high and low blood sugar levels. You may need to provide extra care, especially as they age or when significant lifestyle events or adjustments affect them.

You may have total responsibility for care, or just a few aspects, such as picking up medicines, recording blood sugar (glucose) measurements, taking individuals to medical appointments, or preparing meals. You may also support them emotionally – reassuring them, explaining things to them or listening sympathetically to them.

How can I help?

This depends entirely on the situation, but generally the more you know about type 1 diabetes, the more you will be able to help. Learn what it means to have type 1 diabetes, how it can affect daily life, and know what people with type 1 diabetes should try to do or avoid doing.

Get the important facts about type 1 diabetes.

It’s also important for you to understand the progressive nature of type 1 diabetes, be on the lookout for signs of high and low blood sugars and also if complications may be developing. Be ready to act on them.

Could you recognise type 1 diabetes complications?

Type 1 patient (Dora) sitting at table looking at photos

It’s useful to have a care plan and this could be something that you sit and write down with the person you care for, or just something that you discuss between you, or with their doctor or nurse. It can cover things like:

A meal plan. This is really important because diet and type 1 diabetes are so closely linked. Helping the person you care for learn how to balance what, when, and how much to eat can help him or her make smarter choices. Eating the way they do can help you be healthier too

A plan for being active and how to fit activity into daily life

A plan for taking medicines. You can help the person you care for stick to the treatment plan prescribed by their doctor or nurse. Learning about the different types of treatment for diabetes is another way to get more involved

A plan for checking blood glucose. This could be encouraging/reminding the person you care for to test their blood glucose levels, or they may need you to help them with this. Keeping accurate records can help their doctor know how well the treatment plan is working

Caring for yourself

If you’re going to take good care of someone else, you must ensure that you’re in the best possible condition to do so, and this means prioritising your own needs too. With so much focus on the person you care for, it’s important not to neglect yourself in the process, despite the fact that you are the carer.

As well as the personal strain on you, caring for someone can put strain on your relationship with that person – feelings of frustration, guilt or loneliness on both sides are normal.


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