Caregivers play an essential role in the management of diabetes. But whether you’re a daughter, son, sibling, or close friend, being a caregiver for someone with diabetes can be challenging and mentally taxing.
Finding the right resources and learning about the daily needs of people living with diabetes can help you better understand your loved one’s health and support their physical and mental wellness.
Tips for a Caregiver for Someone With Diabetes
Being a caregiver for someone with diabetes can be overwhelming at first. The good news is that it does get easier with time, education, and a bit of support. Taking the time to educate yourself about your loved one’s diabetes and connecting to the right resources can give you the confidence and knowledge you need to care for them and yourself.
Understand Your Loved One’s Daily Care Needs
One of the best ways you can support your loved one with diabetes is by learning about diabetes and understanding what is needed on a daily basis to promote their overall health and wellness. Learning about the four pillars of diabetes management is a great place to start:
1. Diet and Nutrition
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is essential for effective diabetes management. But because everyone responds differently to different types of foods and diets, there’s no single diabetes diet. It’s important to work with your loved one’s healthcare team or a registered dietitian nutritionist with diabetes-specific experience for personalized guidance.
2. Physical Activity
Exercise is a powerful diabetes management tool. Routine physical activity can help control weight, lower LDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and improve glycemic control. The American Diabetes Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. In general, experts recommend that people living with diabetes exercise 30 minutes after the start of a meal, as this may combat post-meal blood glucose spikes.
3. Adherence to Treatment
Along with diet and exercise, people living with diabetes often need to take medication or insulin to keep their blood glucose levels in their target range and meet blood pressure and cholesterol targets. In those with type 1 diabetes, their pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, so they’ll require insulin to be administered, whether through multiple daily injections or insulin pump therapy. Some people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose levels through diet and exercise, but many need to take medications such as insulin or blood glucose–lowering medications. Work with your loved one’s healthcare team to ensure you fully understand their medication regimen, including the dosage and the timing of administration.
4. Daily Blood Glucose Monitoring
Routine blood glucose monitoring is an essential—yet often neglected—pillar of diabetes management. According to a large international study, self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) adherence rates are as low as 44% for adults with type 1 diabetes and 24% for adults with type 2 diabetes. While it’s easy to let a check or two slip because you and your loved one are out and about or have a particularly busy day, it’s important to make blood glucose monitoring a priority.
A simple, easy-to-use monitor can make all the difference in your ability to keep up with your loved one’s monitoring schedule. If you’re looking for a quick, simple, and accurate way to monitor blood glucose levels, you might consider trying an automatic blood glucose monitor (ABGM), such as the POGO Automatic® Monitor, which allows for automatic lancing and blood collection with the press of a button. With an ABGM, you won’t be needing to haul around separate test strips and lancets wherever you go. Simply press the button, get your results, and you’re good to POGO.
For more detailed information on the pillars of diabetes management, you can take advantage of trusted online resources, such as those from the American Diabetes Association.
Take a Diabetes Management Education ClassDepending on the level of support your loved one needs, you may want to find resources that provide more detailed—or even personalized—guidance beyond the diabetes management basics you can find online. Diabetes education programs are led by certified diabetes care education specialists (CDCESs) and are designed to help you gain the knowledge and confidence you need to help your loved one thrive with diabetes.
Diabetes management programs come in all shapes and sizes, so you have plenty of options. You’ll be able to decide how long a course you want to take, if you want to participate in person or virtually, and if you want to participate in a group course or work one-on-one with a CDCES.
Consider Joining a Support Group
Caring for someone with diabetes can take a mental and emotional toll on you. When caring for someone you love, it can, at times, feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, as their health is in your hands. But you’re not alone. Millions of people around the world are going through the same thing you are. Finding support from others who understand your experience can be empowering and comforting.
Diabetes support groups are community-based or online organizations where people living with diabetes and their loved ones can share the ups and downs of diabetes, tips, and personal experiences. Joining a diabetes support group can be a great way to connect to the tools and guidance you need as a caregiver for someone with diabetes. In the US, the American Diabetes Association has offices across the country that can help connect you with diabetes support resources in your community or online. You can find and contact your local office here.
Supporting the Long-Term Wellness of Yourself and Your Loved One
Diabetes is complex—and helping someone you love manage it isn’t always easy. But taking advantage of the many resources available to you as a caregiver for someone with diabetes can help ease your worries while teaching you how to best manage your loved one’s diabetes.
Robert Miller is a customer experience specialist committed to helping people navigate the world of diabetes. He focuses on finding innovative tools and strategies that make diabetes management easier to support long-term wellness.
All content on this website is for educational purposes only and does not replace the guidance of your healthcare practitioner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.