A diabetes diagnosis can be devastating and stressful for both the person who has been diagnosed and their family members, particularly those who must become caregivers. Naturally, new caregivers will have a lot of questions: What are the first steps I should take? How can I best help my loved one?
Fortunately, there is a lot of support available for caregivers, including elder care supplies and equipment for elderly care at home, which help with day-to-day care. But there are also simple things you can do, as well as numerous books, websites, and support groups to help caregivers deliver the best possible care for their loved one.
Here are five tips for diabetes caregivers.
Educate yourself on diabetes
One of the first things you should do is learn as much as you can about diabetes. For some people, diabetes is a death sentence; for others it’s no big deal. The reality is that diabetes is a disorder that you can manage and still enjoy a long, healthy life.
Ask your loved one’s healthcare provider if they can recommend some books, websites, online communities, and support groups. Figure out what caregiver products you’ll need. And realize that the beginning is usually the worst; once you learn more about the disorder, you can get into a routine and caregiving will become easier.
Participate in lifestyle changes
Your loved one will likely to have to make changes—sometimes big changes—in their lifestyle, namely things like diet, exercise, smoking and drinking alcohol. Caregivers can help by really becoming a team with their loved one. Start eating healthier ad exercising together. Set small goals like walking a certain number of steps or miles every week, or trying two new healthy recipes every week. Your loved one will appreciate the solidarity and making changes together will likely make them more effective—and you can get healthier too!
Ease into it
Lifestyle changes are good. At the same time, overhauling your loved one’s life (and possibly yours, as well) can be overwhelming. Give yourselves some time to process the diagnosis. Ask your loved one how they’re feeling. Let them move towards acceptance on their own time.
Be part of the diabetes care team
There will be several doctors and professionals your loved one sees about his diabetes. Try to attend as many of these appointments as possible. Your loved one might be overwhelmed by all of the information and appointments and lifestyle changes. Caregivers can help advocate for their loved one; ask the doctor questions and listen to what doctors are saying. And, if needed, bring in other professionals such as dieticians and mental health counselors.
Care for yourself
When someone is diagnosed with diabetes, it can be upsetting and overwhelming for everyone involved. Caregivers often throw themselves into care and neglect to take care of themselves, too. Acknowledge that the situation is stressful and that it’s normal to feel stressed. Consider attending a support group for caregivers; meeting others who are going through the same thing you are can be hugely beneficial.
A diabetes diagnosis is scary for both the person who is diagnosed and his or her caregivers, as well. The diagnosis also necessitates major lifestyle changes which can affect everyone involved. After the diagnosis, educate yourself on the disorder, make changes slowly, and participate in these changes. For example, don’t just tell your loved one to eat heathier; start eating healthier yourself. Tag along to medical appointments and be an advocate for your loved one. And lastly, don’t forget yourself—acknowledge and try to alleviate the stress you feel as a caregiver.