Guidelines for Carers
Although there are important guidelines about meal plans, insulin intake, exercise and so on, they must always be balanced against the first-hand knowledge you both accumulate from living with diabetes each day.
- Use whatever experiences you can gather from your loved one with diabetes, doctors, friends and literature. Nothing replaces experience. It arms you with methods for handling the complexities of diabetes management and teaches you to watch for the subtle changes in the way symptoms develop.
- Build trust not dependence. While you are there to support your loved one both physically and emotionally, it is important that they maintain their independence.
- Know your personal limits and have a plan in place to hand over to others when it is needed. You must look after yourself. What kind of support can you provide if you end up sick?
- Know that no one can understand diabetes better than those who live with it every day.
- Above all, remember you are the second most important person in the diabetes team.
Caring for a Person with Diabetes & an Intellectual Disability
People with diabetes sometimes have other challenges in their lives. Challenges like living with a disability. The disability may be another health issue, physical or mental, or it may be intellectual.
Understanding the implications of correct food monitoring, foot care, eye care and handling ‘hypos’ and high blood glucose levels however, is more difficult for most people with an intellectual disability. This is why it’s important that a person with an intellectual disability and diabetes is well supported by their carers.
Most people with an intellectual disability can do some ‘diabetes jobs’. This often gives them a sense of satisfaction and achievement. They generally have feelings about their diabetes that are similar to the feelings that everyone else has, such as “I wish I didn’t have diabetes” and “I don’t like it, I get sick”.
If you are a paid carer or a family carer looking after a person with both an intellectual disability and diabetes this can be challenging. One of the biggest challenges is that the person doesn’t always co-operate with you supporting them.
As a carer the more information and tools you have at your disposal the more confident you can be in how you approach this incredibly important job.