Diabetes not only affects the people diagnosed with diabetes, it also impacts their family members as well. Many people with diabetes require additional support to manage their diabetes and if you are caring for a partner, child or parent with diabetes, you may have many questions about how best you can help your loved one. Your community pharmacist can be a great source of practical advice and support.
Caring for a child with diabetesHearing that your child has been diagnosed with diabetes can come as quite a shock and you may have lots of questions about managing it on a day-to-day basis. Pharmacists form part of the health care team that can support you to care for your child with diabetes. Speak to your pharmacist to make sure you (and your child if they are old enough) understand how to test their blood sugar; how to manage insulin and how to treat highs and lows. You can also speak to your pharmacist about supplements and over the counter medications that might affect your child’s diabetes. Many community pharmacies are now access points for services and products provided under the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS). This means you can get access to products such as needles, syringes, insulin pump consumables, blood glucose test strips and urine test strips from your nearest community pharmacy.Caring for a partner with diabetesA diabetes diagnosis can be stressful for the whole family. On an emotional level, your partner might be worried about what this means for them. You may also be anxious about your partner’s long term health and the possibility of complications. On a practical level, family meals might need adjusting as your partner makes changes to their diet and exercise routines. Talk to your community pharmacist for advice on weight loss and pharmacy programs that can help your partner lose weight. Your community pharmacy may also be able to assist with cholesterol screening, quitting smoking and blood pressure monitoring, all of which are important in the overall management of diabetes. Your pharmacy may also offer a range of additional diabetes services such as access to dieticians, diabetes educators and walking groups.Caring for an elderly parent with diabetesWhether your parent is newly diagnosed or has been living with diabetes for some time, caring for an elderly parent with diabetes can be challenging. Seniors with diabetes have a higher likelihood of diabetes-related complications such as strokes, heart attacks and high blood pressure as well as problems related to aging such as falls and fractures, depression, cognitive impairment and arthritis. They have a harder time fighting off illnesses such as colds and flu and are more susceptible to complications which may result in hospitalisation. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone; your community pharmacist is there to help. Speak to them about the services offered by your local pharmacy, such as cholesterol checks, blood pressure monitoring, wound management, delivery services and diabetes management. They may also offer a diabetes MedsCheck, which is an in-pharmacy medicines review which focuses on diabetes. During a MedsCheck, your pharmacist will have an individual consultation with your parent and discuss how to get the best out of their medicines and use their blood sugar monitor.It’s important for you to learn about diabetes and its management, so that you can recognise any warning signs that your parent’s blood sugar levels are out of balance. If you shop for your parent, also talk to your pharmacist about weight management, so that you can select foods that support better blood sugar control and overall, a healthier diet.Caring for someone with a disability and diabetesCaring for a loved one with a disability often means dealing with multiple health issues. The person may have difficulty in self-managing their condition, which can make adherence to the treatment plan challenging. Making sure you have the information you need to care for your loved one is very important. Talk to your community pharmacist, they do so much more than dispense medication. Many community pharmacies are now evolving into local health hubs and offer diabetes management services that can equip you and your loved one to manage their diabetes and other health concerns.