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Caring for someone with diabetes

If you are caring for someone with diabetes, you can help them best if you understand the condition well. While it is good to encourage the person to be as independent as possible to manage their diabetes, you may need to provide both physical and emotional support. Someone with diabetes may need help with:

  • keeping medical appointments
  • checking their blood glucose levels
  • foot care
  • helping with medications
  • providing healthy food and drinks
  • encouraging regular physical activity.

When caring for someone with diabetes, their management care plan from their doctor can give you some useful guidance and structure around how best to support them.

As a carer, it is important to look after yourself too. Know your limits and have a plan in place to hand over to others when needed.

Read more in our fact sheet Caring for someone with diabetes (for family and friends).

Influenza vaccinations

Influenza (or the flu), and its potential complications, can be very serious for people living with diabetes.

Get immunised before the flu season. People can unknowingly infect others with the flu, as they may be contagious one to five days after the symptoms appear.

Caring for a person with diabetes and an intellectual disability

People with diabetes sometimes have other challenges, such as disability, in their lives. This disability may be another health issue, physical or mental, or it may be intellectual.

For most people with an intellectual disability, it can be more difficult to understand the implications of correct food monitoring, foot care, eye care and handling ‘hypos’ and high blood glucose levels. 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 those of others, 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 may not 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.

Education services

Call the NDSS Helpline on 1300 136 588 to discuss events, training or support in your area or visit your local diabetes organisation website.

The NDSS provides a range of support services to help people with diabetes, their families and their carers learn more about managing life with diabetes.

These support services are administered by your local diabetes organisation and are generally provided free or at a minimal cost to people registered with the NDSS.

Read more about NDSS support services.

Related information

You can also explore the local community for support programs.

Contact your nearest state or territory Carers Association or find out more at Carers Australia.