Caring for a loved one who has a chronic condition like diabetes or asthma can be challenging because in addition to the normal, potentially exhausting demands of caretaking, chronic illnesses require a fair amount of vigilance. You not only need to try to keep your loved one comfortable and as happy as possible, but you may feel at times that it requires a medical degree in the process! With diabetes for example, you will need to make sure that food intake is closely monitored, blood sugars frequently obtained, and that insulin injections are given on schedule. This means always knowing what time it is, when the last meal or snack was ingested, and the exact insulin schedule and dosing. Be aware that this will likely feel overwhelming at first but that with time, you will feel much more comfortable and eventually both of you will fall into a routine.
Whatever the chronic condition, being educated is by far the best thing you can do. It will allow you to feel prepared, to provide the best care possible, and will make conversations with health care professionals more satisfying.
- Know the signs of a flare-up. You should have an action plan in place so you and your loved one know exactly what to do when one occurs.
- Knowing how to reach a healthcare provider when needed is crucial. Create an emergency contact list so you can get help fast if need be. This should include applicable information for school, work, home—even vacation—whatever situations apply.
- Make sure you are familiar with any medications your loved one is taking. You should know whether the meds are for long-term prevention or quick-acting relief. Become familiar with the correct dose, as well as when it needs to be taken. Likewise, you need to know which medication is appropriate for a given situation, as well as how to administer it.