10 People You Need on Your Diabetes Care Team
If your parent has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult-onset diabetes (and the most common form of the disease in seniors), it's essential to get it under control. And to do that, your parent will need the help of a team of medical professionals. Of course, your parent may not be able to consult with all of these specialists, given insurance and financial limitations and availability. Find out below where to turn for help when your parent needs it.
A primary care physician
Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body doesn't make enough insulin -- a hormone that helps convert sugar from food into glucose for energy -- or can't use insulin properly. It's a complicated disease that requires consistent and careful management.
Most primary care physicians, such as a family doctor or internist, can monitor and treat diabetes. This physician should also refer your parent to diabetes specialists when specific health issues arise.
Your parent's longtime doctor can be invaluable in this role, as he should know your parent's medical history well and can help assess any health changes promptly. If, however, you find that diabetes care is not this doctor's forte, or he doesn't seem to satisfactorily attend to your parent's diabetes-related needs, or he isn't willing to field questions from your or your parent about the disease, consider choosing a new general physician or an endocrinologist (see below), a specialist in this disorder.
To locate a primary care doctor near your parent, visit the American Academy of Family Physicians' find-a-doctor locator. To locate an internist, try the American Medical Association's find-a-doctor search tool.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the National Committee for Quality Assurance jointly sponsor a state-by-state Diabetes Physician Recognition Program for doctors who provide high-quality diabetes care.
As people age, complications associated with diabetes are more common. These include nerve, eye, and kidney damage, as well as heart disease and stroke.
Endocrinologists are experts in the body's endocrine system -- tissues, organs, and glands that secrete hormones -- and they treat a wide variety of endocrine-related disorders, particularly diabetes complications and uncontrolled diabetes.
To find an endocrinologist in your parent's area, go to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists' find-a-doctor service.
An eye doctor
Diabetes can damage the eyes, and the retina, the light-sensing lining of the eyeball, is particularly susceptible to injury. Your parent should see either an ophthalmologist or an optometrist to have her eyes checked annually, more often if she already has retinal damage, or retinopathy.