The Special Needs of Aging Parents
When it comes to taking care of your older parent or relative who is living with diabetes, there can be many difficult moments. How do you help your elderly loved ones deal with keeping track of their medication, remembering to monitor their blood sugar, and making sure they have their home stocked with diabetes-friendly foods?
Talk openly with your loved one. Whether you are approaching the subject directly or waiting for the perfect moment, open lines of communication can make all the difference. Instead of telling them what they should do, ask what their preferences are. Would they prefer to take advantage of home delivery grocery services? Or would they rather have someone come with them to the store to help them shop?
Avoid role reversal. If you are taking care of your parent and their diabetes management, be careful not to talk to them as though they are the child. Respect the fact that your mother or father has the right to make their own decisions and that it is best for you to work together on achieving their goals instead of working in opposition.
Encourage them to be actively involved. Help your parent or loved one take responsibility for their health. Help them prepare for their visits to the doctor by making a list of questions and concerns that they want to discuss, or symptoms that they are experiencing. Encourage them to follow the medical advice they receive and help them find ways to implement the doctors suggestions. Work together to make their diabetes management plan a reachable goal.
Be prepared. It is important for an older person to have a system in place for dealing with emergency situations. Make sure there is a list of emergency contact numbers in an agreed upon, obvious place in their home. Also, keep an updated list of all medications that your loved one is taking and have that list posted prominently in their home. For your loved one who may be living alone, look into personal medical response services. Also, it is important that they are wearing appropriate medical identification jewelry, to keep them safe.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08
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