Caregiver Resources - Diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce insulin – the hormone that helps the body control the level of sugar in the blood (1). Without insulin, sugar builds up in the blood (1). Type 1 diabetes is not caused by eating too much sugar, nor is it preventable (1). To treat type 1 diabetes, insulin is given in through a prefilled insulin pen, needle or pump (1).

About 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes which occurs whenthe pancreas does not produce enough insulin; or insulin is produced, but it is not properly used by the body (2). As a result, sugar builds up in the blood. Type 2 diabetes is a life-long disease that gets worse over time, but complications can be prevented or delayed with good care and management (2). Insulin therapy may be used to help the body control its blood sugar levels (2). Also, other medications, physical activity and healthy eating help the body in controlling blood sugar levels (2).  

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes:
Certain factors can increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. If any of the risk factors below apply to the person you care for, talk to the family physician about testing for diabetes. 

  • Being overweight
  • Being of African, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, Indigenous or South Asian descent
  • Earn a low income
  • Have a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Have prediabetes
  • Had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) (3).

Why is this important to know?

Nine million Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes (when a person’s blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to be seen as type 2 diabetes) (3). Diabetes is common in older adults— about 1 in 6 males and 1 in 7 females aged 65 and over in Canada have diabetes (4). Diabetes can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, vision loss, loss of erection (impotence) and nerve damage (loss of feeling) (3)

Good news…
With effective disease management, people with diabetes can live full and active lives. Talk to the family physician about a diabetes management strategy best for your loved one. Diabetes management can include:

Also, talking to others who have diabetes or are caring for a loved one with diabetes can be helpful. Your local Diabetes Canada branch may offer support services or programs like informational sessions or peer-support groups. 

References

(1)  Diabetes Canada. (2018). Type 1 diabetes: The basics. Retrieved from http://guidelines.diabetes.ca/docs/patient-resources/type-1-diabetes-the-basics.pdf

(2)  Diabetes Canada. (2018). Type 2 diabetes: The basics. Retrieved from  http://guidelines.diabetes.ca/docs/patient-resources/type-2-diabetes-the-basics.pdf

(3)  Diabetes Canada. (2018). Diabetes. Retrieved from http://guidelines.diabetes.ca/docs/patient-resources/diabetes-fact-sheet.pdf

(4)  Statistics Canada (2016). Diabetes. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-229-x/2009001/status/dia-eng.htm