“One of my children has diabetes, the other doesn’t. How do I make changes that the whole family can adopt so that my daughter doesn’t feel like she’s making our lives more difficult because of diabetes?” Fatima Richards.
The emotions that parents deal with when a child is diagnosed with diabetes are the same as any serious medical condition. Confusion, shock, denial, sadness, anger, fear and guilt are some of these emotions.
Unfortunately, guilt is a feeling common to many family members, the patient as well as the parents. I believe that guilt is one of the most destructive negative emotions – it drains you so that you can’t focus on more important things.
Getting the whole family to deal with these feelings openly at the time of diagnosis helps with long term adjustment. As you all learn to live with diabetes, you will become more used to it and find ways to fit it into your life more naturally. Fitting diabetes care into as normal a life as possible is the major goal.
Remember, too, that if all family members have a positive attitude, life with diabetes will be much easier. One day at a time is a good option!
How to help the whole family adjust to diabetes:
- Keep your family routine as close to the previous ‘normal’ as possible.
- Whenever possible, fit diabetes care around your child’s lifestyle, rather than her life revolving around diabetes.
- Remember, children with diabetes are children first. Their diabetes should not define who they are.
- Explain any changes that are made because of diabetes to everyone in the family.
- Remember that nobody is being punished because of the diabetes. Everyone is just going to follow a healthier lifestyle. And this is a good thing.
– Jeannie Berg, Diabetes Educator
Being a supportive partner can be both a gratifying and a challenging role – especially when living with a person with diabetes. Diabetes affects the whole family, not just the one taking medicine.
Want to know how you can help?
1. Try to keep food temptations away and have healthy options at home. Support the diabetic in your family by having everyone eat healthy. And don’t nag if they sometimes ‘cheat’ or stray from their eating plan.
2. Make time to do exercise together – lots of fun exercises can be done as a family. Make exercising regularly a habit for both of you.
3. Remind your partner to see their medical team on a regular basis. Help them set up a few questions to ask so they get as much as possible out of the visit.
4. Set a reminder to have their monthly medication fetched from the pharmacy in time. Encourage them to test their blood sugar often.
5. Educate yourself about diabetes. Learn as much as you can, from the right sources – Dr. Google is not always right!
6. Learn to know the signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and what to do about it. Know how to test your partner’s blood glucose if necessary, and how to inject glucagon in an emergency.
7. If sexual problems arise, talk about it. Counseling may help if one partner feels rejected, and there is medication for erectile dysfunction if it becomes a problem. Just ask!
8. Look out for any signs of depression, mental fatigue or diabetes burn-out. Take action on these signs, as depression is not something that will heal itself.
9. Respect your partner’s personal decisions. This is sometimes very difficult, but you need to show your faith in them – diabetes is, at the end of the day, their condition.
10. Help your partner maintain balance in their life. Offer them a shoulder to lean on and help them to find solutions to their problems – but don’t try to solve the problems for them.
– Jeannie Berg, Diabetes Educator