What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin that it produces.
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas, that acts like a key to let glucose from the food we eat pass from the bloodstream into the cells in the body to produce energy. All carbohydrate foods are broken down into glucose in the blood so it is ready to be used by the cells. Without the body’s natural ability to produce and control the amount of insulin, the glucose in our bloodstream has nowhere to go.
Not being able to produce insulin or use it effectively leads to raised glucose levels in the blood (known as hyperglycaemia). Over a prolonged period high glucose levels are associated with damage to the body and failure of various organs and tissues.
We are the U.K.’s longest-serving live-in care agency with over 60 years experience of caring for people with complex care needs such as diabetes in their own homes. We take care of over 500 clients every week in the comfort of their homes, offering compassionate and professional care for the elderly, those convalescing in their own homes, and disabled adults who need extra support to live independently.
Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, but occurs most frequently in children and adolescents. When you have type 1 diabetes, your body produces very little or no insulin, which means that you need daily insulin injections to keep blood glucose levels under control.
Type 2 diabetes is more common in adults and accounts for around 90% of all diabetes cases. When you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make good use of the insulin that it produces. The cornerstone of type 2 diabetes treatment is a healthy lifestyle, including increased physical activity and a healthy diet. However, over time most people with type 2 diabetes will require oral drugs and/or insulin to keep their blood glucose levels under control.
In the U.K. 4.9 million people are now living with diabetes, and there are an additional 850,000 living with type 2 diabetes, who are yet to be diagnosed.
Type 1 diabetes in more detail
Type 1 diabetes, sometimes also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition. In this condition, the pancreas makes little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone the body uses to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy.
Different factors, such as genetics and some viruses, may cause type 1 diabetes. Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it can develop in adults.
Even after a lot of research, type 1 diabetes has no cure. Treatment is directed toward managing the amount of sugar in the blood using insulin, diet, and lifestyle to prevent complications and usually involves management with daily injections of insulin.
Type 2 diabetes in more detail
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that impairs the way the body regulates and uses glucose. This results in too much glucose circulating in the bloodstream eventually leading to disorders of the circulatory, nervous, and immune systems.
In type 2 diabetes, there are primarily two interrelated problems at work; The pancreas does not produce enough insulin — a hormone that regulates the movement of glucose into the cells — and cells respond poorly to insulin and take in less glucose.
There’s no cure for type 2 diabetes, but losing weight, eating well, and exercising can help reverse the disease. Sometimes diet and exercise aren’t enough to manage glucose levels, and diabetes medications or insulin therapy may be needed.
What are the causes of diabetes?
Causes of Diabetes depend on whether the person has type 1 or type 2. Type 1 is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction whereas type 2 is caused by lifestyle. The following factors can also determine how likely someone is to get type 1 or type 2 diabetes:
- Family history
- Environmental factors
The cornerstone of healthy living, with or without diabetes, is eating a balanced diet that is low in sugar and processed foods. For anyone with diabetes, it is critical to learn about carbohydrate counting and portion sizes, make every meal well-balanced and low in carbs, coordinate meals and medications, and avoid sugar in both food and drink.
Physical activity requires the muscles to use sugar (glucose) for energy. Regular physical activity helps the body use insulin and manage blood sugar levels more efficiently. Even light exercise like walking, gardening or housework can have positive impacts on diabetes management. This also contributes towards a healthy weight, something that many diabetes sufferers struggle with.
This is especially important for people with diabetes type 1 as sudden changes in blood sugar can have life-threatening effects and requires swift action based on informed decisions. Daily monitoring of blood sugar levels, and sometimes blood pressure, is paramount to diabetes care. Also learning how diet, activity, and medications affect these levels in a specific person ensures good diabetes care and support can be carried out.
Diabetes requires good problem-solving skills as on any given day, a high or low blood sugar episode, or a sick day will require fast, informed decisions and interventions around food, activity, and medications.
How effective diabetes medications depend on the timing and size of the dose. Medications that are taken for conditions other than diabetes also can affect blood sugar levels and must be understood.
Daily at-home monitoring and regular medical check-ups for eyes, feet, heart, and kidneys, can help reduce risks of additional health problems. Also, taking into account things like having a sick day, which can raise blood sugar levels, will require action or preventative measures to reduce the risks of further complications.
A diagnosis of diabetes can be overwhelming and an added complication for someone who already has complex care needs. At Country Cousins, we have a wealth of experience in giving diabetes care. The professional carer we match you with can help you or your loved one manage diabetes through the implementation of a care plan. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help.
What are the care options for diabetes?
At Country Cousins, we specialise in providing live-in home care for chronic conditions like diabetes and work with highly trained and experienced caregivers who can help you or your loved one manage a diabetes condition.
There are several ways that a Country Cousin can support a diabetes patient to live their best and healthiest life possible:
- The compassionate and experienced carers who work with us will work with you to implement a support package that will be carried out in the comfort of one’s own home.
- We will match you with a Country Cousins carers who has plenty of experience of caring for those with diabetes who can administer insulin, monitor blood sugar levels, manage the condition, and helping to reduce the risk of developing further complications.
- Carers can prepare healthy and nutritious homemade meals that optimise health and manage blood sugar levels daily, supporting healthy body weight.
- Carers are there for emotional support and offer coping strategies and companionship to nurture physical and emotional well-being.
- Carers can assist to encourage daily physical activity and help to monitor and manage a client’s weight, where appropriate.
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How do I arrange diabetes care?
If your loved one is living with diabetes we can give match you with the perfect carer for your needs.
Our wealth of knowledge and expertise, along with the compassionate and professional carers we work with are on hand to serve you. To understand more about how we can help you manage life with diabetes get in touch today for a non-obligatory and free chat, either by calling 01293 224706, or through our online enquiry form.