Becoming a family caregiver to an older adult with type 2 diabetes can be overwhelming at first. You may have a lot of questions and concerns about how to best care for them. One way to deal with some of your concerns is to learn as much about the condition as you can. Even gaining a good basic understanding of the disease can help you to know what to watch for and what questions you need to ask the senior’s doctor.
There are multiple kinds of diabetes, but type 2 diabetes is the most common. It’s a condition that impacts the body’s ability to use glucose to produce energy. The body is either unable to effectively use the insulin it produces or does not make enough insulin. Diabetes is a chronic condition and has no cure. However, it can be managed through medication and lifestyle changes, like eating well and exercising.
When diabetes first starts, the symptoms can be subtle, making it possible for diabetes to go undetected for years. Some symptoms that may occur are:
- Being thirstier than normal.
- Increased urination.
- Weight loss without explanation.
- Blurry vision.
- Wounds that take a long time to heal.
- Dark patches of skin, usually in skin folds like on the neck or in armpits.
How Glucose and Insulin Work
Although doctors don’t know exactly what causes someone to develop type 2 diabetes, they do know that it has to do with insulin production and how the body uses insulin to use and control blood glucose. Insulin is a kind of hormone that is produced by the pancreas. When the pancreas secretes insulin, the insulin allows sugar in the bloodstream to enter cells. Because sugar leaves the bloodstream, blood sugar levels become lower. When blood sugar levels get lower, the pancreas stops sending out insulin.
Blood sugar, or glucose, is used by cells for energy. People get sugar from the food they eat and from their livers, which both makes and stores glucose in the form of glycogen. When blood sugar levels drop, the liver uses the glycogen it stores to produce glucose, keeping blood sugar levels in the normal range.
When a person has diabetes, these processes don’t work the way they should. Sugar isn’t able to get into cells, so it builds up in the bloodstream. At first, the pancreas tries to keep up by secreting more insulin, but eventually, it cannot keep up.
How Elder Care Can Help
Elder care can assist with managing diabetes in your aging relative by helping them to make lifestyle changes that keep blood sugar levels lower. Usually, when a person is diagnosed with diabetes they work with doctors and dieticians to develop a meal plan that supports blood sugar levels. Elder care can make meals and snacks that conform to the suggested diet. Elder care providers can also help seniors with diabetes to be more physically active, which can also keep blood sugar levels lower. An elder care provider can go for walks with your loved one, involve them in activities around the house, or drive them to the gym to attend group classes or use fitness equipment.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Home Care Services in Chico, CA, talk to the caring staff at Partners in Care today. Serving El Dorado, Nevada, Yuba, Sutter, Sacramento, Placer, Butte, Glenn, Yolo, & Colusa Counties! Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! (530) 268-7423
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