How can I help my mom deal with high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension?

2 answers | Last updated: Dec 01, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother has high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and hypertension. How can I help her keep these three conditions in check?

Expert Answers

Theresa Garnero is clinical nurse manager of Diabetes Services at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

First, it might help to know you're far from alone. While your mother is dealing with a triple-whammy diagnosis, her situation is not uncommon. Many people with type 2 diabetes must also contend with hypertension and high fat levels (such as cholesterol or triglycerides) in the blood, known as hyperlipidemia. Both these conditions are major risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Although your mother needs to address this trio of health concerns, the saving grace here is that many of the same interventions -- dietary changes, physical activity, losing weight, managing stress, and quitting smoking -- can help her keep all these conditions under control. And, of course, there are medications available to treat each of these ailments as well.

You can help your mom keep track of both her blood sugar and blood pressure levels by encouraging her to do regular home testing. That may mean physically doing these tasks for her, reminding her she needs to do them herself, or ensuring that another caregiver keeps on top of these tasks. While many people test their blood sugar at least once a day, few get a home blood pressure cuff to test blood pressure at home on a regular basis. (To find one online, search using the key words blood pressure cuff.) Digital monitors are easier to use than aneroid monitors, and finger-wrist devices aren't always very accurate and can be expensive. Regardless of which kind of device your parent chooses, however, getting the right cuff size is very important. So ask her health practitioner or pharmacist to help you find a good fit.

You can also help your mother by encouraging her to eat a healthy diet consisting of lean protein, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. She should skip the sweets and, in particular, watch her fat and salt intake by choosing monounsaturated rather than saturated fats, adding less salt in cooking and at the table, and cutting down or eliminating fast foods. She should also reduce or cut out alcohol. A registered dietitian or diabetes educator can help you both figure out the best meal choices for your mom.

In addition, help your mom find ways to become more physically active. She may enjoy taking up a group activity such as dancing or bowling, or she may want to try a low-impact alternative such as stretching or puttering in the garden. Look for ways to help make exercise happen. Your mom may need transport to get to an exercise class, assistance finding comfortable walking shoes, or a companion to accompany her to yoga. Eating well and getting exercise can help your mom maintain or lose weight, if she needs to, and physical activity can help keep stress at bay. Encourage her to find other ways to unwind as well, such as listening to music or practicing deep breathing.

Community Answers

Kilani answered...

Mother's day is approaching and we must dedicate sometimes for our mom. At the age of 40s and above, they all deal with cholesterol and diabetes and hypertension issues. A primary care doctor is a best solution for it, consult with them and care your mother.