Caring for a Child with Diabetes

November 12, 2019
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Diabetes affects millions of people each year – from children to the elderly. Monitoring sugar levels, pricking fingers, and administering insulin shots, are just some of the many lifestyle changes that impact your loved one’s life. When your loved one is a child, it can be extra challenging to ensure their blood sugar levels remain within a healthy range. Despite the obstacles that one faces, caring for a child with diabetes is easier to do with the following guide.

Types of Diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that causes your loved one’s immune system to attack and destroy beta cells in the pancreas. This can cause permanent damage. While it’s unclear why the attacks occur, it’s believed that both genetic and environmental factors — including lifestyle — play a role.

Type 2 diabetes begins as insulin resistance. Your loved one’s body can’t efficiently use insulin, so as their pancreas attempts to produce more insulin, their body can’t keep up with the demand. Insulin production decreases and leads to higher blood sugar. While the exact cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown, genetics, lack of exercise, and being overweight can play contributing factors.

How to Care for a Child with Diabetes

The first thing to realize when caring for a child that has developed diabetes is that your loved one is a child first, and a diabetic second. That means that your child should be treated the same as other children without diabetes, but as a caregiver, you should be prepared to treat their diabetes and monitor their glucose levels. It’s a balancing act, but by following these steps, you can easily navigate the day-to-day.

Step 1. Educate yourself

When your child is diagnosed with diabetes, talk to the doctor about what this means for their daily life, and get instructions on how to monitor their blood glucose levels and how to administer insulin. Most hospitals offer educational courses for families and caregivers to make managing this new situation easier.

Outside the hospital, there are multiple online sources — including the American Diabetes Association —  that provide educational material and forums to connect you with other parents walking in similar shoes. You can also find logs, trackers, and calculators to help make managing insulin and blood sugar levels easier.

For more information, check out our article: Diabetes in Children

Step 2. Track everything

Contrary to popular belief, children with diabetes can eat whatever they want – but it must be tracked. The key to managing diabetes is control. If they want to eat cake at a birthday party, give them a smaller piece and monitor their blood sugar levels. If your child is active in sports, bring snacks in case their blood sugar levels get too low. It’s all about monitoring and tracking changes throughout the day. Make sure you keep an insulin pen and a source to treat low blood glucose with you wherever you go to make treatment swift if their levels spike or drop.

Step 3. Plan ahead

If your child is going to be away from you — whether for a friend’s sleepover, school day, or class trip — plan accordingly. Have your child wear a medical alert bracelet and provide their friend’s parents or their teachers with any equipment that will need to be administered. Provide a sheet with signs of high or low glucose levels, and steps for caring for your child. Create a notebook that has how-tos and provide one for anyone watching over your child.

Step 4. Talk to your child

When your child is younger, they may be incapable of testing their own blood sugar levels and administering insulin, but as they get older, start talking to them about best practices and learning how to recognize their signs and symptoms. Make the transition to self-care easier by letting them help you track their levels and adding it into their routine. You can also introduce them to games that help educate them about their disease. Understand that while they may be able to take on some of the responsibility, they may still need help – regardless of their age.

Step 5. Recognize when you need help

It can be overwhelming caring for a child with diabetes. You may have to monitor their glucose levels 10-12 times a day, and this time-consuming task paired with all the other requirements can be difficult, even for the most dedicated stay-at-home parent – especially if you have other children in the home. Don’t be afraid to reach out to home caregivers to get assistance caring for your loved one. Symptoms that you need help may include:

  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Drowsiness that lasts throughout the day
  • Your other children acting out for attention
  • Memory loss
  • Feeling overwhelmed

Contact Care Options for Kids for Diabetes Home Care in Florida

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child who has diabetes. That’s why our team of professionals at Care Options for Kids are here to help.

Our home care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent caregivers to provide customized care for families – from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you are considering pediatric home health care services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.