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Helping Diabetics Overcome Fear of Self-Injection

Many older adults with diabetes use injectable insulin to help manage the disease. While it’s an effective way of administering the medication, many people just aren’t comfortable with giving themselves a shot. In fact, some are downright afraid of needles. So, what can you do to help your aging relative to overcome their fear of giving themselves an insulin injection? Below are some tips that may help.

Use an Autoinjector

Many people with diabetes use autoinjectors, or pens, instead of syringes and vials. However, if your older family member’s doctor has not made the switch to autoinjectors, ask about them. An autoinjector uses needles that are shorter and thinner than those used with syringes. Because the needles aren’t as long, there’s no need to pinch the fat before injecting. Still, your older relative will still be able to see the needle, so if they are really bothered by the sight of a needle, ask for a shield that hides it.

Learn How to Give a Shot

One reason senior’s fear giving themselves a shot is because they worry they will do something wrong. To relieve this fear, ask the doctor or nurse for lessons in giving the shot. Practicing giving a shot on a rubber dummy or something else will make them feel more comfortable with the task. The health care professional may also be able to give the older adult tools to practice with at home.

Numb the Area of Injection

Before the older adult gives themselves the injection, it can help for them to numb the area. An ice cube held against the skin for a few moments will do the trick. There are also topical numbing medicines that contain lidocaine or prilocaine that can be used.


This sounds like a strange suggestion. However, when people anticipate pain, they often hold their breath or breathe in a shallower pattern. Remind the older adult to take some deep breaths before giving themselves the injection and to continue breathing through it. This will help them to relax and stay calm.

Let the Medicine Warm Up

Medicine that is cold has a greater chance of causing a reaction, like bruising, at the place where it is injected. To avoid this, set the insulin out about 30 minutes before it is time for the injection. Alternatively, insulin can be warmed up quickly by placing the vial under the arm.

Although an elder care provider cannot give your older family member their insulin shot, they can remind the senior to use techniques that will make it easier. An elder care provider can let the older adult know when it is 30 minutes before time to give themselves an injection so they can take the insulin out of the refrigerator. While the senior takes the injection, the elder care provider can stand by and offer encouragement and support.


If you or an aging loved one is considering elder care in Castle Pines, CO, please contact the caring staff at SYNERGY HomeCare today at 303-953-9924.