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How to Care for a Diabetic Patient at Home

Do you care for someone with diabetes? This comprehensive guide offers actionable tips for managing type 1 and type 2 diabetes, which affects 38 million Americans

You’ll learn how to adjust diets, monitor glucose levels, and provide mental health support to improve quality of life. 

We’ll show you how to make diabetes care a rewarding experience that strengthens your bond with your loved one or patient.

Key Takeaways

  • To prevent low blood sugar, check blood glucose, drink enough water when working out, and eat snacks that raise glucose.
  • Always carry ID and essential health information for people with diabetes to ensure safety during exercise or travel.
  • Scheduling regular doctor visits and getting needed vaccine shots helps people with diabetes manage their health.
  • Use methods like mindfulness and exercise to reduce stress and control blood sugar.

Important Daily Tasks for People With Diabetes

Senior Woman Checking Blood Sugar Level

Monitor Blood Sugar Levels

Regular blood glucose monitoring is vital to managing all types of diabetes. It involves checking a patient’s blood sugar levels throughout the day, and ensuring they remain within their target range. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Gather supplies: You’ll need a glucose meter, test strips, a lancet device with lancets, and a log or app to record readings.
  2. Prepare everything and everyone: Ensure clean, dry hands. Insert a fresh strip into the meter as the manual instructs.
  3. Prick the finger: The lancet device is used to prick the side of the fingertip with a small drop of blood.
  4. Apply blood to strip: Touch the strip’s edge to the blood drop. Then, wait for the meter to show the sugar reading.
  5. Record the reading: Note the reading, date, time, and any factors that might have influenced the blood sugar level, like food, exercise, or medication.
  6. Dispose of lancet and strip: Use a sharps container for lancets and dispose of the test strip as per local rules.

With insurance, the cost of these tests is about $5. Without insurance, it’s roughly $31. It may help to review the difference between Medicare and Medicaid to ensure you’re adequately covered, as multiple tests could be costly. 

Brush and Floss Regularly

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial if you’re caring for someone with diabetes, as they’re at a higher risk for gum disease

Encourage brushing teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing once daily to lower the risk of dental issues. 

Don’t forget regular dental check-ups, which are crucial in catching and managing potential problems early on. 

Remember, healthy gums can help control blood sugar levels, making oral care a vital part of diabetes management.

Check Skin for Wounds

Individuals with diabetes are particularly vulnerable to skin issues, including slow-healing wounds. So, it’s essential to inspect the skin daily for any signs of injury, especially on the feet and legs, which are high-risk areas. Here’s what to do:

  • Inspect skin daily: Look for cuts, blisters, red spots, and swelling.
  • Keep the skin clean and moisturized: Wash gently with mild soap and warm water, avoiding soaking. Apply a moisturizer to prevent dryness.
  • Report any skin issues immediately: If you discover any wounds, even small ones, consult a healthcare provider promptly to avoid infections or further complications.

Eat at Regular Intervals

Keeping blood sugar levels stable is vital for managing diabetes, and eating regularly throughout the day is a great way to achieve this. 

Try to schedule meals and snacks consistently to help the body’s insulin response, whether the insulin comes naturally or from medication. 

Include a balanced mix of nutrients—carbohydrates, proteins, and fats—in each meal to help maintain optimal glucose levels.

Consider a dietitian if you need help creating a meal plan. They’ll know what healthy foods to include to manage blood glucose levels, stay at a healthy weight, and achieve general well-being.

Exercise Reminders

Wait 30 Minutes After Eating

It’s essential to time your exercise properly when caring for someone with diabetes. A good rule of thumb is to wait about 30 minutes after eating before engaging in moderate physical activity. 

This waiting period allows the blood sugar to peak. At this point, if you begin exercising, you’ll get the maximum glucose-reducing effect. Plus, you’ll feel better moving around if you allow the food to digest a bit anyway.

Pack Glucose Tablets and Some Carbs

Preparing for unexpected blood sugar drops is crucial, especially when out and about. Here’s what to pack to ensure quick and effective management of hypoglycemia:

  • Glucose Tablets: A rapid and effective way to boost blood sugar if it dips too low.
  • Small fruits: Such as apples or bananas, provide a slower, more sustained energy source.
  • A bag of nuts: Offers a dose of healthy fats and protein.
  • Granola or energy bars: Good for more sustained energy release.

Bring Water

People with diabetes must drink plenty of water to stabilize blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can lead to dehydration by making the body expel excess glucose through urination. 

So, as a caregiver, make it a habit to carry a water bottle and encourage drinking before, during, and after physical exercise. Aside from keeping blood sugar levels in check, staying hydrated also helps with exercise performance and possibly weight loss.

Bring an ID

Anyone with diabetes should always carry identification, especially when exercising or traveling. 

An ID should list a person’s name, emergency contact information, and essential medical details like diabetes type, allergies, and medications. 

Carrying such identification ensures first responders can quickly understand your medical context in any situation. Here are the options for ID types:

  • ID bracelet: A wearable option that keeps critical information easily accessible.
  • Card in a wallet: A traditional and straightforward method to carry emergency information.
  • Digital note on the phone: A modern solution that can store detailed medical information.

Stay on Top of Exams

Staying current with regular check-ups is an essential aspect of managing diabetes. These appointments help your healthcare provider monitor vitals and diabetes and its impact on other body parts, such as the eyes, kidneys, and heart. 

During these visits, your doctor can adjust your treatment plan based on your health, blood sugar levels, or diabetes complications.

These check-ups are also critical for preventing life-threatening issues related to diabetes, such as:

  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Ketoacidosis

Aim to schedule these check-ups at least once a year or as your healthcare provider recommends to ensure your diabetes management plan is as effective and up-to-date as possible. Home health care services can help with this. They can ensure your medical care is well managed without needing an expensive healthcare team.

Keep Track of Vaccines

Individuals with diabetes need to stay up-to-date with their vaccinations, as they’re at a higher risk of developing serious illnesses. 

According to the American Diabetes Association, these are the essential vaccinations to consider:

  • Influenza vaccine
  • Tdap vaccine (protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
  • Hepatitis B vaccine (administered in a three-part series)
  • Zoster vaccine (for shingles prevention)
  • COVID-19 vaccine

Always consult with a healthcare provider to ensure all vaccinations are current. They will recommend the appropriate vaccines based on age, health status, and risk factors.

Be Mindful of Stress!

Stress can significantly affect blood sugar levels and complicate diabetes treatment. 

When stressed, the body releases hormones that may cause blood sugar to spike. This can be especially challenging for those managing diabetes, as it makes keeping glucose levels within the desired range more difficult.

Incorporating stress-reduction techniques into your daily routine can be crucial. Consider these practices to help alleviate stress:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Regular physical activity
  • Engaging in enjoyable hobbies

Additionally, having a solid support network of family members and friends to share concerns and feelings can make a big difference.

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