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Diabetes

WHAT IS DIABETES?

Diabetes means that a person has too much sugar in his or her blood. A main goal of managing diabetes is to keep blood sugar controlled.​

The body’s main source of energy is glucose, a type of sugar.

1. The food that is eaten

2.The sugar that is made in the liver

Diabetes and the body

Diabetes, over time, may lead to:


•Heart disease and stroke

•Kidney failure

•Blindness

•Nervous system problems, such as pain, tingling,
or loss of feeling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs

•Lower-limb amputations or loss of part of the leg

How to support a family member or friend with diabetes

When people have the support of family and friends, they are better
able to manage diabetes.

Caring for someone with diabetes may not be easy. Understanding
diabetes and having a treatment plan with goals may help manage
the disease.The person in your care has a health care team. It may include  a primary care provider, specialists, nurses, a diabetes educator, and a dietitian. They can help you learn how to care for your family member or friend.

THESE TIPS CAN MAKE HELPING A LITTLE EASIER

1.Learn about diabetes. Ask your loved one or his or her health care team to help you learn more. Read about diabetes online or join a support group. Check with your hospital or local clinic to find one.
2. Understand the diabetes of the person in your care. Find out how he or she manages it with diet, physical activity, and/or medicines.
3. Find out what the person in your care really needs to manage his or her diabetes. Ask what you can do to help that you are not doing now.
4. Offer the help that the person in your care asks for. Whether it is going to the store to get blood sugar meter test strips or keeping snack foods out of the house, do your best to help.
5.Talk about your feelings, frustrations, and hopes regarding the person you are caring for and his or her diabetes. It can clear the air and bring you closer.

Diabetes and blood sugar

People with diabetes may have high or low blood sugar at times. Both can be serious if untreated. So learn about high and low blood sugar

High blood sugar is also called hyperglycemia [hy-per-gly-SEE-mee-uh]. High blood sugar can occur when the person

Low blood sugar is also called hypoglycemia (hy-po-gly-SEE-mee-uh). Low blood sugar can occur when the person

Low blood sugar is also called hypoglycemia (hy-po-gly-SEE-mee-uh). Low blood sugar can occur when the person

High or low blood sugar may not cause any symptoms.

A blood sugar test is the
best way to know a person’s blood sugar
level. Tell the health care provider if the
person often has high or low blood sugar
levels. The health care provider may need
to make a change to the person’s diet,
activity, or diabetes medicine.

high blood sugar include and blood sugar

Feeling thirsty
Losing weight without trying
Having to urinate more often
Blurred vision

low blood sugar include

Nervousness or anxiety
Shakiness
Sweating, chills, or clamminess
Dizziness or light headedness

Blood sugar highs and lows

People with diabetes may have high or low blood sugar at times. Both can be serious if untreated. So learn about high and low blood sugar.

Ways to help prevent high and low blood sugar levels

Space meals evenly throughout the day.
Be sure blood sugar is tested as recommended.
Keep a supply of healthy snacks on hand.
Take diabetes medicine as instructed.
Find out how often the health care provider wants you to check the person’s blood sugar

What you should know about checking a person’s blood sugar levels

The person in your care has a health care team. It may include a primary care provider, specialists, nurses, a diabetes educator, and a dietitian

They will help you learn:

• The blood sugar levels that are right for the person in your care.
• Self-testing methods. This includes how to check the person’s
blood sugar using a blood sugar meter.
• How often the person should check his or her blood sugar and when
the best time is to check it.
• The right A1C level for the person. Knowing the A1C level will help
you and that person control his or her blood sugar.
If the person’s blood sugar level is too high or too low, he or she may need a change in his or her diabetes medicine. Check his or her meal and exercise plans and other medicines too. Always talk to the health care provider before making any changes in the person’s care plan.

Diabetes: Know your ABCs

Talk with the health care provider of the person in your care about more ways to take care of that person. You can start by knowing theThe person in your care has a health care team. It may include a primary care provider, specialists, nurses, a diabetes educator, and a dietitian..

ABCs of diabetes:

• A is for A1C. The A1C test measures the average level of blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months. It is reported as a percentage (%).
• B is for blood pressure. The blood pressure checks how hard the heart has to work to pump blood to the body. It is written as 1 number over another.
• C is for cholesterol. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the blood. Cholesterol levels are checked with a blood test

You will learn how these and other needed tests help manage diabetes. The health care team will set goals for each. Staying at or near these
goals may help prevent or delay other health problems.

Diabetes medicine

Learn all you can about the medicines this person takes. Talk to the health care provider about the medicines.

Here are some questions you can ask the health care provider:

• What medicines are not good to take with other medicines?
• What vitamins, supplements, and foods are not good to take?
• What are some possible side effects of these medicines?
• Are there any special things we should know about the medicine?
For example, should it be taken with food or at a certain time of day?

Use a medication tracker

• Ask the health care provider for a medicine tracker. Use it to writedown the medicines. Use it to mark them off as the person takes
them each day.
• Go over the medicine tracker with the health care provider at each visit.

Paying for medicine

Cost should not keep someone from taking medicine recommended by a health care provider. These options may help:

• Discuss whether a 90-day supply might lower out-of-pocket costs.
• Ask about other options to lower out-of-pocket costs.
• Find out if the person you are caring for qualifies for a program that helps people receive free or low-cost medicine

Home nutrition

If you plan meals, healthy eating can include foods the person likes to eat. A diabetes meal plan is a guide that tells how much and what kinds of food to eat at meals and snack times. It is designed just for the person you are caring for with the health care provider and/or dietitian.

Help the person with diabetes plan his or her meals. Ask the nutritionist or diabetes educator these things:

• What kinds of foods should my loved one eat every day?
• Which food groups should we choose?
• What serving sizes should they eat?
• How many servings should they have from each food group?

Getting started

Meal planning depends on the person’s: Calorie and nutrition needs Lifestyle and eating habits Preference of foods he or she likes to eat. One way to get started is by using a dinner plate and dividing it into portion sizes.

Controlling portions at home

You do not need to measure and count everything the person in your
care eats for the rest of his or her life. Just do it long enough for you
both to learn the right portions to eat.

Manage portion control by dividing the plate

1. Use a 9-inch paper plate. Draw a line down the middle of the plate.
2. Then draw a line in 1 of the halves, making that 2 halves.

Tips you can use to help with portion control include:

Put the right portion size on the plate. Do not let the person eat straight from the box, bag, or cooking pot.
Make sure the person eats slowly.
Freeze leftovers in single-serving portions.
Have the person eat meals at the same time every day. Help him or her to not skip meals.

Physical activity

Being an active partner in managing diabetes
You can help the person in your care be more active. When someone becomes more active, he or she may have more energy.

Explain to the person in your care how regular physical activity can help in managing diabetes Regular physical activity can:

• Lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol
• Relieve stress
• Lower risk for heart disease and stroke
• Help insulin work better
• Improve blood flow
• Keep joints healthy
• Help a person lose weight

Always talk to the health care provider before starting or changing a physical activity plan. Getting active can be simple and fun

Here are some ideas to get the person moving:

• Enjoy playtime. Take kids or grandkids to the playground and join the fun
• Try a grocery relay. Have the person carry grocery bags into the house 1 at a time
• Take the stairs. Have him or her go up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator or escalator.
• Swim and splash. Have him or her take a water aerobics class or swim laps
• Clean the house. Dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing floors, and washing windows will help burn calories

What can stop a person from being more active?

Everyone can think of reasons not to be more physically active, even when they know being active will help them. Getting more physically active begins with wanting to become more active.
The person in your care may stop being physically active. So think about what is keeping him or her from being active. Ask members of the health care team, friends, and family for ideas. They may know ways to help the person in your care be more active.

Coordination of care

The person in your care may have other conditions along with diabetes. Work with the health care provider to give the best care.

Here are some ways to help the person in your care:

• Tell the health care provider about any other conditions.
• Talk with the health care provider about what is and what is not working with the current treatment.
• Before the appointment, make a list of questions you want to talk about.
• After the health care provider answers your question, rephrase what you believe you heard to make sure you heard him or her correctly. If you don’t understand, it’s okay to ask again.

Caring for yourself

Care giving can be stressful. Some ways to manage your stress are:

• Continue to take care of your own health. Stay physically active, eat well, and go to your health care provider regularly.
• Find someone to talk to when caregiving gets to be too much.
• Avoid taking on additional responsibilities and learn to say “No”.
• Ask for and accept help. Involve other friends and family in care.
• Stay organized and prioritize what needs to be done.

When you care for someone with diabetes, remember your own health is important too.

Caregiver support

Here are some ideas to get the person moving:

• Enjoy playtime. Take kids or grandkids to the playground and join the fun
• Try a grocery relay. Have the person carry grocery bags into the house 1 at a time
• Take the stairs. Have him or her go up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator or escalator.
• Swim and splash. Have him or her take a water aerobics class or swim laps
• Clean the house. Dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing floors, and washing windows will help burn calories

What can stop a person from being more active?

Everyone can think of reasons not to be more physically active, even when they know being active will help them. Getting more physically active begins with wanting to become more active.
The person in your care may stop being physically active. So think about what is keeping him or her from being active. Ask members of the health care team, friends, and family for ideas. They may know ways to help the person in your care be more active.

Ask for help from others:

Ask family members and friends to help with caregiving tasks, such as ordering medicine, going food shopping, or driving to an appointment.
Be open to asking neighbors, members of your church or synagogue, coworkers, a support group, or organizations to help you.
Write down the concerns you have and discuss them with the health care team to learn what other options may be available to help you.

Coping with stress as a caregiver

• Find a support group. It may be a good way to cope with stress.
• Find other caregivers who are dealing with the same things.

Take care of yourself, so you can help the person in your care
Talk to your health care provider about ways you can stay healthy. Then you can be there for the person you are taking care of.

About us

Internal & Adolescent Medicine
Diplomates of the American Board of Internal Medicine