Type 2 diabetes is becoming an epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports over 350 million people worldwide suffer with this chronic disease and it is expected to affect 552 million people by 2030.
Every 30 seconds, a new case of diabetes is detected and identified.
Each year, 1.9 million people are diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Currently, about 29.1 million Americans live with this illness.
Unfortunately, approximately 8.1 million people go undiagnosed with this unremitting disease.
Education, awareness, and good healthcare are essential ingredients in managing diabetes. In addition, maintaining a normal body weight, avoiding tobacco, regular physical activity, and a healthy diet helps in delaying and preventing the risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal. Most of the food products people eat are turned into glucose, or sugar, as a source of energy for the body. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, creates a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the body’s cells.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the following risk factors of type 2 diabetes.
“The risk for developing type 2 diabetes is associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians, some Asians, and Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes and its complications. Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents, although uncommon, is being diagnosed more frequently among American Indians, African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asians, and Pacific Islanders.”
Caring for someone with type 2 diabetes requires knowledge about the disease in addition to knowing how to use management tools. It is important that both the caregiver and patient learn the basics about the malady.
Sometimes people suffering with this chronic disease do not let anyone know how they are feeling. It can be difficult for both the patient and caregiver to recognize warning signs associated with diabetes.
A person with type 1 or type 2 diabetes may also mask their feelings and symptoms until complications or an emergency develops.
Successfully helping someone with diabetes requires open communication. Caregiving begins with sitting and openly talking with the person about any concerns and ways to help manage the disease.
If it becomes difficult to talk with the individual about diabetes care, consider going to the upcoming doctor’s appointment with him or her.
Additional ways to help someone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes involves preparing food, reminding the person to check blood sugar levels at regularly scheduled times, and organizing a plan in case of diabetic complications or an emergency.
In addition, sharing resources about the disease with the person receiving the care is very helpful. The Internet is full of websites, videos, and blogs with information about type 2 diabetes, and more.
There are also books, organizations, and groups that offer information to help achieve success in taking care of someone with diabetes.
Try to accommodate their lifestyle by helping to provide access to material they like to watch or read. Help them find comforting ways to interact with others if this is what he or she would like to do.
Make available opportunities of self-discovery. Provide resources and information to assist them in learning; avoid being a bearer of bad news concerning complications and risks.
Offer healthy food choices for the person with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Kathy Honick, RN, CDE, a diabetes educator at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, had this to say to Everyday Health about a type 2 diabetes caregiver’s role.
“The caregiver’s role is to support the diabetes patient’s efforts to practice the required self-care behaviors by functioning as an active, knowledgeable, and competent participant. Examples of this can be following or preparing a healthy meal plan, cuing their loved one to take medications, testing blood sugar, etc.”
Above all, if spikes or dips in blood sugar levels arise, provide comfort, love, and support to the loved one. It can be a lifesaver by helping someone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes to get control over his or her blood sugar.
A proper diet for a patient with diabetes is essential for achieving short-term and long-term health. Diabetes is strongly affected by foods and the balance of carbohydrates and protein. A person’s health can decline if they do not receive the correct balance of foods.
Living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can be overwhelming. Caregiving for a loved one with diabetes requires an understanding of the disease, how it manifests in the body, how to treat it, and the required lifestyle and dietary measures to manage it.
It is also important to be prepared when emotional situations arise. A person with diabetes may experience feelings of despair, fears, depression, and anxiety. A caregiver may experience the same emotions, as well.
Support groups are available online and in local communities for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes and the caregivers who offer their time and assistance. Reach out for help if you or your loved one has prolonged feelings of stress and anxiety.
[Photo courtesy of en.wikipedia.org]