World Diabetes Day is November 14th, and this year’s theme relates to diabetes and the family. Anyone who lives with diabetes knows that it’s not a personal struggle, although it sometimes may feel like it. Diabetes affects the whole family, but more importantly, it should affect the whole family.
Too many times my class participants have shared with me that when they cook at home, they have to make a meal for themselves and a meal for their spouse (and/or kids) because “they don’t want to eat that healthy stuff”. Or they try to walk each night after dinner, but no one in their family wants to go. They can find a friend in this situation, but what about dealing with the cooking dilemma?
As a family, it’s important to support and encourage each other. With a chronic condition like diabetes, the impact is long-term. Therefore, look for ways to be involved in the education, management, prevention, and care of someone living with diabetes or one who is at risk. Those who have a strong support network are more likely to be successful in the management of their diabetes.
- Join your family member in a diabetes education class. Your county Extension office, local hospital, and community centers may have free classes.
- Become familiar with your family member’s symptoms when experiencing high and low blood sugar, and know what to do in each situation. This way you can act quickly to help them, or help them prevent having an episode in the first place.
- Learn how diabetes affects mental health. Depression, anxiety, stress, and sadness can be heightened in someone with diabetes due to physical and physiological changes brought on by the condition.
- If you can do so financially, check your blood sugar and log your food together for two weeks. Putting yourself in their shoes can help you relate to the daily challenges that your family member may be facing. It may also lead to novel ideas for tackling things like eating out, busy days at the office, or traveling.
- Get involved, including kids, in shopping and preparing meals. Being part of the decision increases participation (as in: kids are more likely to eat something they chose for the family meal).
As a person living with diabetes, don’t be afraid to share challenges with your family. If your family doesn’t know what’s going on, they won’t be able to help.
For those who have diabetes or live with someone who has diabetes, share some ideas or suggestions that work for you in involving the family.