Living with diabetes

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An overview of what to expect when your child is diagnosed with diabetes, and you will need to learn to manage living with diabetes.

Key points

  • Diabetes education will take place shortly after your child is diagnosed with diabetes.
  • The diabetes care team will continue to provide support to you and your family to help you manage your child's diabetes.
  • Adjusting to a diagnosis of diabetes and learning how to properly manage it takes time.

​Your child may be diagnosed with diabetes in various settings, such as the family doctor’s office, a hospital ward, or through the emergency unit. First, you and your health-care team will focus on making your child feel better.

In hospital

In the first few days, most children who are newly diagnosed are cared for in the diabetes care unit of their hospital. This is when families learn about the essential skills for diabetes management to safely care for their child at home. Diabetes education usually takes about two days. This education may take place while your child is admitted to hospital or in a day hospital (diabetes daycare).

During the day, children in diabetes daycare receive their meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks) and insulin if necessary, and they go home for bedtime snack and to sleep overnight.

Diabetes education

You will be taught how to do the tasks that make up the foundation of good diabetes care. These include:

This may seem like a lot of information, but once you have completed these two days, you will have ongoing support from your diabetes team. In addition, your diabetes nurse and dietitian will likely organize a series of weekly sessions for your entire family with more details on how to manage diabetes at home. These education sessions will cover additional topics, such as:

Once you have learned these skills, you will begin your new lifestyle at home. When your child is well, the process of transitioning your child home will begin.

At home

Living with a child with diabetes does take work as everyone gets used to the "new normal." Diabetes staff are always available to answer questions and provide support.

Adjusting to a diagnosis of diabetes takes time and patience for all family members. You will need to manage situations differently in many ways. For example, you will need to plan meals in advance instead of acting spontaneously. You will have to remember to pack extra food for your child when they leave the house. You will also need to pack your child’s diabetes supplies (glucose meter, insulin etc.) in addition to juice or snacks to treat low blood sugar events.

In the long run, all of these adjustments will become second nature.

Last updated: September 25th 2017