Are you caring for someone with type 1 diabetes?

For the caregiver of a person with type 1 diabetes, follow-up is demanding, even more so if it is a child.

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Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes usually develops before the age of 30, in both men and women. In Canada, 10% of those with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.

People with type 1 diabetes depend on daily insulin injections or an insulin pump to stay alive. People who inject insulin need to determine the amount of insulin they take every day: this means measuring carbohydrate intake at meals, blood glucose levels, and energy expenditure.




Blurred vision, severe thirst and hunger, fatigue, frequent urination, frequent skin infections, slow healing of wounds, weight loss despite increased appetite

When blood sugar becomes too high: confusion, increased breathing rate, rapid heartbeat, fruity breath, impaired coordination of movements, tremors, difficulty speaking, pain in the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness


Intense or pronounced thirst, weight loss or gain, severe fatigue and weakness, frequent urination, bed-wetting, yellowish urine with a sweet smell

At a more advanced stage: nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, dehydration, sweet fruity breath, blurred vision


Type 1 diabetes is a disease that cannot be cured. Close monitoring and lifestyle adjustments are essential to ensure the person's survival and quality of life.

In general, the person's outcome depends on the following:

  • The types of symptoms;
  • Follow-up and access to services and resources;
  • The ability of the caregiver and those around them to become informed. The caregiver must understand the details of the disease, medication, complications, nutrition, hypo- and hyperglycemia, to name a few;
  • If the diabetic family member is a child, a considerable amount of care is required, because their young age does not allow them to cope with all aspects of the disease. Therefore, it is the parents who take charge of the child's care and become their caregiver.

Ask your CIUSSS about the availability of a program for people with pre-diabetes and diabetes to learn more about their disease and how to control it.

Treatment and preevention

Managing type 1 diabetes requires close monitoring, including:

  • strict control of blood sugar before and after meals, with insulin injections;
  • blood pressure and cholesterol monitoring;
  • annual check-ups to detect any complications and to assess cardiovascular risk factors;
  • a healthy diet that avoids sugar and saturated fats;
  • regular physical activity, at least 30 minutes a day;
  • quitting smoking;
  • maintaining a healthy weight.

Ten tips for supporting someone you are caring for

As a caregiver, you can:

  1. Encourage the person you care for to maintain a regular schedule (meals, getting up, going to bed) in order to facilitate treatment control;
  2. Encourage them to test their glucose levels at least three times a day so you can adjust insulin levels if necessary;
  3. Assist them with their blood glucose testing, if needed;
  4. Suggest physical activities that you can do together, with family or friends. Walking, for example, is a good way to manage diabetes;
  5. Learn about food guides, tips and recipes that are adapted to the diet of a person with diabetes;
  6. Create a blood glucose chart for easy reference and inform health care professionals as needed;
  7. Encourage the person with diabetes to wear a type 1 diabetes card or medical identification bracelet;
  8. Draw up a list of contacts, especially in case of an emergency;
  9. Pay attention to how the person is feeling;
  10. Consult with local organizations that provide disease counseling, psychosocial support, home care or travel assistance

If you are caring for a child, some of these tips may not apply.

Questions and possible solutions

Our child was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. How do we tell them?

The educational game GlucoZor, designed for children aged 8 to 12 and available as an app, consists of taking care of GlucoZor, who is diabetic, by giving him balanced meals, monitoring his blood sugar levels and injecting the right amount of insulin. Communication-Jeunesse also offers a small selection of books (in French only); this organization is worth knowing for its judicious choices and its Livrovore space (in French only), where your child will find ways to express their emotions through games and reading. Camp Carowanis (in French only) allows children to share their own situation with other children.

We were told at the hospital that our child had diabetic ketoacidosis. What is this?

This is a serious complication, usually in cases of type 1 diabetes. The body produces high levels of acid in the blood to the point of being toxic. If you notice your child urinating frequently, being very thirsty, losing weight, being hungry all the time and being very tired (in French only), it may be a sign of type 1 diabetes that could lead to this complication. You should seek immediate medical attention.

Are there any apps you know of to help with glucose tracking?

Some helpful tools are suggested in the web page What you need to know about diabetes.

What financial assistance is available for diabetes?

Consider the Disability Tax Credit when filing your tax return; type 1 diabetes is one of the cases that can be considered.

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Need to talk?

Contact our Caregiver Support Helpline for counselling, information and referrals.

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Free of charge.

call  Caregiver info :  1 855 852-7784
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