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Diabetes: Caregiving for an Older Adult

Table of Contents


Caring for an older adult with diabetes may feel like a lot to take on. Caregiving can be challenging at times because what seems best for your loved one may not be what they want. You may worry about invading your loved one's privacy or free will. There's also the stress of learning how to manage diabetes and often other health problems. No less important, you need good health and balance in your own life.

How can you be a good caregiver and take care of yourself? First, team up with your loved one and their doctor. And don't try to do it all.

Learning the art of caregiving

As a caregiver, you likely have run into some problems when offering help. For example, the more you try to change how someone eats, the less agreement you get.

Stop and think a moment. When you're in need, how does it feel to accept help from another person? Do you feel relief, or gratitude? Maybe something else? How does it feel when you and your helper don't agree? No one likes to be told what to do, right?

That's why caregiving is an art. At its best, it's an other-centered way of thinking, asking, listening, and responding. That can mean:

A main goal of caregiving is to help your loved one have the best quality of life possible. To learn what that means for your loved one, try asking questions like:

Help and support in any way you can, based on your time and ability. If there are critical needs that you can't meet, talk about them with your loved one. Think about having more than one caregiver, or maybe a home health aide.

Teaming up with the doctor

Here are some ways to help your loved one team up with his or her doctor to get the best care.

Helping them make good food choices

It's important to understand what "eating smart" with diabetes means. It doesn't mean "no sugar" or only special diabetic foods. Instead, smart eating means:

You can use food to prevent big jumps and drops in your loved one's blood sugar. For example, eating only noodles makes blood sugar jump up, and then drop. It's because of the simple carbs. But eating noodles with some protein and fat, such as cheese, might help slow down the jump in blood sugar.

When a loved one with diabetes isn't eating well, it's easy to take on the role of "food police." The problem is that no one likes to be told how to eat. If you are struggling with this challenge, try to shift your approach. Here's an example.

Taking care of yourself

Taking care of yourself is your most important step as a caregiver. Caregiving can be stressful, even in the best of situations. Here are some important things you need to find time to do—just for yourself.



  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd ed. Accessed July 9, 2018.

Credits for Diabetes: Caregiving for an Older Adult

Current as of: June 16, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
David C.W. Lau MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology

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