Remembering diabetes medications and avoiding hypos when you have dementia

From the Dec 15/Jan 16 issue of Dementia Together magazine, read more about how to manage diabetes when you also have dementia.

'I sometimes forget to take my diabetes medication and insulin injections – what can I do?'

People with diabetes will often need to have insulin injections or take medication to control their blood glucose levels.

Diabetes is a condition where the body has difficulty controlling the amount of sugar – glucose – in the blood.

This may be due to problems with the production and/or action of a hormone called insulin. Insulin is needed so that glucose in the bloodstream can enter the body's cells, where it can be used for energy.

 

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Remembering doses

If you think you have forgotten to take your medication or insulin injection at a scheduled time, it is best to wait until your next dose is due rather than take another one immediately.

You can ask your GP whether a once-a-day medication or insulin injection might work for you, whether you have been forgetting doses or are concerned that you might in future.

Simple memory aids such a dossette box (with different compartments for each time's medication) may help. There are also insulin pens that have an in-built memory function to record the time of your last dose.

Avoiding hypos

People with diabetes need to regularly monitor their blood glucose. Not eating enough or taking too much insulin can cause your blood glucose level to fall too low and trigger a 'hypo'. Symptoms of a hypo include dizziness, trembling, sweating, hunger and finding it difficult to concentrate.

Dementia can make hypos more likely, by causing people to forget that they have taken insulin or by forgetting to eat. It can also make people less able to recognise that they are having a hypo.

It is sensible to make carers, friends or relatives aware of the symptoms of a hypo and ensure they know how to treat it. This usually involves giving a sugary drink or glucose gel.

A GP, diabetic nurse specialist or dietitian can advise on how to avoid and treat hypos.

See The memory handbook, which is free and includes ways to help your memory.

Our online shop includes a range of daily living aids, including pill dispensers and reminders.

Contact Diabetes UK Careline on 0345 123 2399 or email [email protected]

Diabetes research

Are you living with diabetes and dementia, or do you support someone who is?

Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire are keen to speak to people in confidence by phone about their experiences.

They want to find out how people who have both dementia and diabetes can work better with carers and professionals to manage their diabetes better.

To take part, please contact Frances Bunn – email [email protected] or call 01707 286457.

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