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Diabetes: A Caregiver's Checklist for Daily Care

Helping someone take care of her diabetes doesn't just make her feel better. It helps her avoid common diet, foot, and mouth problems. Use this checklist for top-notch daily care.

Daily Tasks for Diabetic People

Most people with diabetes already have their own daily routines. Some don’t need any help at all -- some need reminders and prompts. But if you’re a new caregiver or family member, these are good things for you to know.

  • She is in charge of keeping her blood sugar levels healthy. She might already be keeping a daily record of her blood glucose readings, medicine schedule, exercise, meals, and how she feels. She might be working with her doctor to look for patterns from month to month and let her doctor know about them.
  • When she wants to exercise, note that she should wait an hour or so after eating, when blood sugar is likely higher. It’s always a good idea to pack glucose tablets or a carbohydrate snack, plenty of water, and a diabetes ID tag or card when she exercises away from home. She should also check her blood glucose before, during, and after exercise.
  • Stress can affect her blood sugar. Some daily activities that might help her ease stress: walking, deep breathing exercises, gardening, meditation, listening to music, or working on a hobby.

If she has problems being able to do any of these things herself -- from monitoring blood sugar to taking medications -- you might be able to help.

Grooming

  • People with diabetes are more likely to have problems in their mouths -- like gum disease, fungus, and dry mouth. That's why mouth care is so important. They should brush with a soft-bristled brush after every meal, and floss at least once a day.
  • Ingrown toenails can lead to infection and other problems. Caregivers or family members can help check toenails once a week for swelling or signs of infection. Toenails should be trimmed with a nail clipper straight across and then smoothed with an emery board. Don't round off nail corners.

Bathing

  • Mild soap and warm (not hot) baths or showers are best to prevent dry skin. Skip foot soaking, which can dry skin. Dry between toes. She should use a doctor-approved moisturizer -- including on her feet, except between toes.
  • A small thing like a callus or cut on the foot can lead to serious problems for anyone with diabetes. And if she has nerve damage from diabetes, she may not even feel a cut or sore. After a bath, she should do a daily skin check, especially of her feet. Give her a hand-held mirror, or look in the places she can't see. Look for red spots, blisters, and sores.
  • Gently smooth corns and calluses with a pumice stone or emery board, moving it in one direction only. Wash minor cuts with soap and water. Check each day to make sure they are healing.

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