Talk to your loved one about managing type 1 diabetes
In the United States, a study conducted using data from 2016-2018 found that the majority of adults with type 1 diabetes were not reaching their goals when it came to maintaining blood sugar levels.
A large number of adults over the age of 50 experienced severe hypoglycemia multiple times throughout the course of a year.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends adults who are type 1 diabetics have HbA1c levels less than 7%. Only 21% of adults in the study achieved this goal.
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Type 1 diabetes is a challenging condition to manage. Because your pancreas does not produce insulin, you must always be monitoring your blood sugar. In addition, because type 1 diabetes often is diagnosed earlier in life, you may have children who are newly diagnosed, a partner who has been diagnosed since their youth, or a parent who has been managing it most of their lives.
Insulin therapy is an individualized treatment and how you or your loved one receives insulin will be an ongoing conversation between you and your healthcare team.
Managing type 1 for your family
When a family member has type 1 diabetes, it often means the entire family needs to be educated and change certain habits.
If dad has to regularly monitor his blood sugar, his loved ones might also want to understand what he looks like when he has low or high blood sugar. It is also helpful to teach loved ones what to do in these situations so they can remain calm and simply get dad what he needs to regain control of his blood sugar.
In many cases you may want to discuss the following changes with your family:
- Nutrition. Type 1 diabetics must learn how food affects them and their blood sugar. It is important to learn how to count carbohydrates so you can determine how much insulin you need at mealtime.
- Exercise. Type 1 diabetics should focus on maintaining a healthy weight. In many cases, losing weight can help your body better manage blood sugar levels. When exercising, be sure to have fast-acting sugar products with you in case you develop low blood sugar.
- Self-checks. Each family member should understand what type 1 diabetes is and should understand what it means to check blood sugar. In some cases, it can be a great idea to teach each family member how to check blood sugar levels so they know how and are not afraid of it.
- Tell friends, family, and schools. If your child has type 1 diabetes, be sure his or her friends, family, and school knows about the diagnosis. Meet with the school nurse annually to discuss your child’s safety and schedule.
- Tracking blood sugar. No matter who in your family has type 1 diabetes, monitoring sugar levels regularly could be something you want to help with. Do frequent blood sugar monitoring either with a meter or a continuous glucose monitor so you can see patterns in blood sugar fluctuations and so this information is also shared with healthcare providers.
Type 1 diabetes is just another aspect of life for your family. It is nothing to be embarrassed about and it can provide a valuable opportunity for teaching about diabetes for your friends and family.
There are many resources and online groups for type 1 diabetics. In addition, there is a summer camp for type 1 diabetic children available in Delaware.
If you have questions or need additional support or resources, call Beebe Diabetes Management: 302-645-3121.