Q: My mom wants our daughter to spend school vacation week with her. How can we make sure she's up to the task of caring for a child with type 1 diabetes? She's a pretty active senior, but this would be her first time caring for her granddaughter solo since the diagnosis last year.
A: When it comes to leaving your child with type 1 diabetes in someone else's care for an entire week, it all boils down to a question of confidence. Are you confident in your mom's ability to care for your daughter's needs? And likewise, is your mother confident in her own ability to manage all aspects of your daughter's type 1 diabetes care, including how to recognize and treat low or fluctuating blood sugar levels?
You don't have to guess what the answers are here! A good way to find out is to have a "trial run" weekend at Grandma's house that you attend as well. Shadow your mom as she checks blood sugar levels, administers insulin and plans meals. Give feedback when needed and see if your mom is fast to catch on and make the necessary changes. Make a list of the warning signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and go over with your mom when to give fast-absorbing carbs (or when to use treatment for severely low blood sugar), and what kinds of meals and snacks help keep your child's blood sugars on an even keel.
If your mom seems like a quick study, great! Pack your daughter's bags and don't forget to give your mom everything she needs for a successful week. Make it your responsibility to pack testing supplies, insulin and other diabetes care items -- and don't forget to include emergency contact numbers, treatment for severely low blood sugar, and a list of favorite food suggestions.
If your mom is completely new to type 1 diabetes care, it's a good idea to take time before the planned vacation week to attend a type 1 diabetes care training class together (in addition to the "trial run"). A lesson is the perfect opportunity for your mom to learn the basics. But even if she has cared for your daughter before, reviewing type 1 diabetes management is a good way to help your mom do exactly what she planned -- take good care of her granddaughter and give you a break.
--Mary McCarthy, RN, CDE, is part of the type 1 diabetes care team at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.
Disclaimer: The information in these articles is not intended as medical advice. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding individual care.
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