Diabetes is a disease where your body either can’t make enough insulin or can’t properly use the insulin it produces. No matter which type you are diagnosed with, or how you manage it, living with diabetes can be a challenge.
It can be even harder when you have to stay home and practice physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. You may also be dealing with additional stressors, such as feeling isolated, worrying about getting COVID-19, or wondering how you will make ends meet financially. It can be a lot.
Here are some tips to help you stay well and manage your diabetes at home during this difficult time:
Keep up with your healthy lifestyle practices as much as possible:
Eating well and being physically active are important parts of taking care of your diabetes. To eat well and stay physically fit at home:
- Continue to follow your usual healthy eating or meal plan as discussed with your health care team. This may include following the guidelines in Canada’s Food Guide or in Diabetes Canada’s ‘Just the Basics’ resource.
- Try to stick with your usual meal and snack times and amounts of food eaten.
- With fewer trips to the grocery store, you may need to rely more on frozen or canned vegetables and fruit over fresh produce. This is ok!
- Use the extra time at home to cook meals from scratch whenever possible. Check out these healthy recipes from Diabetes Canada.
- You may not be able to go to the gym, swim at the local pool, or walk with your walking group, but there are still lots of ways to stay active at home! Anything that gets you moving counts!
- Dancing to your favorite music, walking up and down stairs, gardening, and house cleaning are all ways to stay active while at home.
Keep up with your diabetes management practices
It is very important to continue to do all you do to manage your diabetes every day. Be sure to:
- Check your blood glucose at your usual times (if you usually check blood glucose).
- If you have been less active while at home, you may notice higher blood glucose than usual.
- Take your medications, including insulin, as prescribed by your health care provider.
- Take care of your feet and check them every day. This is especially important if you are missing a routine appointment where someone else would have checked them for you.
- Keep a list of regular appointments you have missed and be sure to reschedule once possible.
- This may include routine visits with your primary care provider and diabetes team, as well as your regular eye and dental exams.
Make sure you have enough diabetes supplies on hand in case you need to stay home for an extended period (for example, a 2-week self-isolation or quarantine).
Take care of your mental health and wellness
It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, fear, and worry during times of uncertainty. Everyone reacts differently. It is important to reach out if you feel you need help.
Know who to contact
- For diabetes management questions or concerns:
- Contact your primary care provider (family doctor or nurse practitioner) or Diabetes Centre.
- While face-to-face visits are limited to urgent cases only, you should be able to connect with your primary care provider and diabetes team by phone, or in some cases, by video conference.
- For diabetes emergencies:
- Call 911 or go to your local emergency department.
- For medication-related errors:
- Call the IWK Regional Poison Centre directly at 1-800-565-8161. They are available 24/7 and can assist if your primary provider or diabetes care team is not available. You can also call 811 and your call will be redirected.