What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition where your blood glucose or sugar levels are too high. There are two main types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2 – and some rarer forms of the condition too.
Glucose is essential for our energy levels and is produced from the breakdown of foods in our digestive system, which then enters our blood stream. The hormone produced in our pancreas allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells to provide us with the energy we need to function. This process doesn’t work properly for people with diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system destroys cells that make the pancreatic hormone and they are then unable to generate the hormone themselves.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the hormone made by the pancreas is not effective or there isn’t enough of it, therefore leaving the glucose in our blood stream with nowhere to go.
Meet Clinical Nurse, Samantha Atkins
Samantha has worked as a Registered Nurse for over 10 years and is a member of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). She has worked in community and inpatient services in both the public and private sectors, supporting people in rehabilitation units, a GP Out of Hours Service and palliative care.
Before joining Helping Hands, Samantha led a team of clinical nurses in a residential home who supported individuals with dementia, Parkinson’s, diabetes and other health-related conditions.
During her career, Samantha has worked with many people living with diabetes and supported them with the varying symptoms of the condition. This has included assistance with monitoring blood sugar levels, maintaining a healthy diet, educating those with the condition on how to recognise symptoms worsening and coordinating support for other health concerns linked to diabetes.
Find out more about Samantha here.
What causes diabetes?
The cause of diabetes varies considerably from person to person and can depend on the following factors:
- Family history
- Environmental factors
Causes also depend upon whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Around 90% of people with the condition have type 2 diabetes, with certain factors making people more susceptible to developing it. These include: smoking; being overweight; drinking too much alcohol; leading a sedentary lifestyle; high blood pressure or a genetic link. People also tend to develop type 2 diabetes from their late forties onwards, yet this condition is preventable if the correct steps are taken in time such as getting plenty of exercise, eating a balanced diet, not smoking and watching your alcohol intake.
There are far less people who have type 1 diabetes, and this form of the condition isn’t directly affected by external factors such as health and exercise. Triggers for the condition can be caused after an infection, from chemical toxins within food or an underlying genetic disposition. People with type 1 diabetes manage their glucose levels by regularly checking it throughout the day and injecting a specific hormone into their bodies when blood sugar levels are too high.
There are other causes of diabetes that tend to be less common than those listed above. These include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), pancreatitis, Cushing’s syndrome and continued use of glucocorticoids.
What are the warning signs of diabetes?
Many people have diabetes without realising, but if caught early, it is much easier to manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of further health problems.
Early signs of diabetes can be:
- Drinking more fluids than usual
- Needing to urinate more than usual
- Losing weight
- Blurred vision
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Both forms of diabetes are serious and can begin with symptoms such as needing to urinate frequently, drinking more fluids, losing weight and being more tired than usual. Over time, diabetes can cause more serious difficulties with your vision, feet, kidneys and heart and can be a precursor for other health conditions such as cancer or heart disease.
To confirm whether you have the condition, your GP may conduct a blood and urine test and from there will be able to advise you on the best form of treatment.
What are the care options for diabetes?
For complex needs that are caused or affected by your diabetes, we have a clinical nurse team on hand to support our carers with medical treatments such as monitoring blood sugar levels. With someone always available to support you with your condition no matter how much it affects your life, you can always be reassured that you will have the support you need, when you need it, with Helping Hands.
There may also be other ways in which you need support, such as monitoring your diet and ensuring you exercise regularly. So, if you need gentle prompting to take a walk to the shops instead of relying upon a carer to drive you or you aren’t sure how to prepare healthy and nutritious meals, your carer will give you the motivation you need to get some fresh air by walking alongside you and even help you to devise meals that will keep your blood sugars where they should be. What’s more, they won’t take over but will provide assistance that enables you to live independently, rather than do everything for you.
You may have to attend medical appointments more regularly for check ups on your heart or other organ functions. If you struggle to get there by yourself or become anxious in unfamiliar places, we can accompany you every step of the way so that you never miss an appointment related to your diabetes.
And if you do start to struggle with your mobility due to your diabetes and are unable to carry out tasks around the house or tend to your personal care, your care plan can be altered at any time. You may find that you need support from a dedicated live-in carer, who will come and live with you in your home and provide round-the-clock support whenever you need assistance.
How do I arrange diabetes care?
For over 30 years, we have been committed to supporting those who need a little extra help to remain independent in their own homes. If you’re living with diabetes, we can ensure you get the care you need that’s unintrusive and tailored to your specific needs. So, if you have Type 1 diabetes and need support to check your blood sugar levels regularly throughout the day or you struggle to prepare healthy meals due to a combination of diabetes and other health problems, our experienced carers will be able to provide the right level of care to suit you.
Trained in supporting you with both your care needs and your emotional wellbeing, our carers are able to support you with everyday tasks ranging from personal care, administering medication and light housework to companionship and someone to accompany you if you struggle getting out and about. That way, you and your loved ones have total peace of mind that you have everything you need to lead a healthy and independent life on your terms.
From brief, regular calls from our local visiting care teams to short-term respite care – or even live-in care for more intensive support – we have a range of different care options that are available to adhere to your routines and preferences so that you can live well with diabetes.
Find out more about diabetes care
For further information on diabetes care in your home, call our friendly advisors today. They will be able to talk you through the different care options available and discuss the best level of care bespoke to you.Request a callback Email us
Page reviewed by Samantha Atkins, Clinical Nurse Trainer on September 5, 2019