Would you be able to spot diabetes in a family member?

14 November 2019

In her latest blog for us, Beth Britton writes about a worldwide campaign to improve awareness of diabetes and gives advice for supporting a diabetic

 Would you be able to spot diabetes in a family member?

This is a key question that the people behind this year’s World Diabetes Day are asking, with statistics suggesting that one in two people with Type 2 diabetes are undiagnosed.

For many people diabetes is confusing, partly because there are two types:

  • With Type 1 your body can no longer make insulin and your symptoms usually occur quickly.
  • With Type 2 the insulin your body produces either doesn’t work effectively or you can’t make enough of it. Type 2 accounts for over 90 percent of cases, but because it’s a milder form of the disease it’s harder to spot and often manifests itself gradually.

Insulin is necessary because it allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our bodies. If glucose can’t enter our cells, it builds up in the blood, leading to diabetes symptoms.

Neither type can be cured, but with Type 2 some people manage to achieve remission and other people who are at risk, perhaps because they are overweight or have a family history of diabetes, manage to prevent it.

What are the signs?

Both types share similar symptoms. Commonly these include feeling really thirsty and going to the toilet a lot, unexpected weight loss and feeling tired. Left untreated, it can lead to heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb loss.

Worldwide someone dies from diabetes every 8 seconds, so knowing your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is important, and if you think you have symptoms see your GP.

The impact upon a person’s life

Being diagnosed with a long-term condition is life-changing. After diagnosis a regime of medication, dietary changes and exercise is often recommended which some people find hard to implement and maintain. Emotionally many people struggle with symptoms like depression and anxiety, and negative thoughts about their body.

Finding peer support through online forums like this one from Diabetes UK or local groups  can help to connect a newly diagnosed person with peers who have lived with their diagnosis for longer and may have useful tips and advice to share.


Ageing and diabetes

In common with many care providers I work with, Promedica24 support numerous people living with diabetes. Ageing can make living with it more difficult because some of the self-help mechanisms like diet and exercise can be compromised by other problems like changing food preferences, difficulties eating or drinking (perhaps due to dental issues or dysphagia), problems with mobility, and challenges around managing medication effectively.

Many older people also live with other conditions, with dementia being a key example as well as a complicating factor, purely because the person may struggle to remember to eat regularly, may become dehydrated (potentially leading to kidney problems) if they forget to drink enough, and may miss medication due to their memory problems.

An older person who is living with diabetes will undoubtedly benefit from the support of family, friends, a live-in companion  or care worker to enable them to manage their diabetes as effectively as possible.

If you are supporting an older person who is living with diabetes, tips include ensuring that the person has regular mealtimes and snacks containing carbohydrates, making sure you know the symptoms of hypos , supporting the person to understand and adhere to a medication regime agreed with their GP, and helping the person to attend regular clinic appointments to review their diabetes as well as diabetic foot and eye care appointments.

Want to test your knowledge now you’ve read this blog? Complete this quiz

About the author:

Beth Britton is an award-winning content creator, consultant, trainer, mentor, campaigner and speaker who is an expert in ageing, health and social care https://www.bethbritton.com.


To find out more about Promedica24’s live-in care, please call 0800 086 8686 or email care@promedica24.co.uk


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