When your parent has a chronic illness, it’s never easy to deal with. Diabetes has its own special set of challenges. Know the facts, and be aware of how you can help your parent cope with this disease.
If your parent has Type 1 diabetes, they are taking insulin and under a doctor’s care. When your parent has received a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, your role can be even more involved. For the sake of discussion, we’ll be examining some best practices to adhere to when caring for the Type 2 diabetic.
Most doctors will try to treat Type 2 diabetes with a program that includes diet and exercise. They may prescribe oral medication as well. Make sure that they are making the recommended lifestyle changes. Check that they take all prescribed medicine.
Your role as a family member may be to encourage your parent to follow their doctor’s recommendations. They probably have received advice to start and maintain dietary changes. If you live with your parent, offer to prepare the food, and eat with them. When shopping for your parent, don’t buy food that they shouldn’t eat.
Encouraging your Mom or Dad to exercise may be another difficulty. Exercise is so important to the diabetic, as it will improve glucose tolerance. It will also help with weight control, and lowers the chance of developing serious complications from the disease.
Offer to exercise with your parent, even if it’s just to take a walk with them. You can invite them to join you at your gym for a class or two. If they are more comfortable, buying and using an exercise or dance DVD at home might be a good solution.
Stress reduction techniques can play a major role in a diabetes care plan. Stress can actually block the body from releasing insulin. Learning and practicing relaxation techniques will help with the diabetes. It will also help with overall health, since this diagnosis can be frustrating and overwhelming.
It’s hard to watch your parent suffer in pain. If they are experiencing pain due to peripheral neuropathy, there are certain things you can do to help. Use those relaxation techniques we talked about above. Check their legs and feet every day to make sure that they don’t have any blisters or cuts and calluses. Be sure that toenails stay trimmed to avoid injury. Make sure that their shoes are a good fit.
Mark your calendar and keep track of when your parent has testing done to monitor their disease. A1C testing should be done from time to time. This monitors their average glucose levels. Make sure that they are having their cholesterol tested. It’s common for diabetics to have high cholesterol. Hypertension can go hand in hand with diabetes, so check their blood pressure regularly. There is a link shown between diabetes and heart health.
There are many support groups for diabetics. If your parent seems especially overwhelmed, consider going with them to a support group. This is the perfect environment to get encouragement from professionals and others who are living with the disease. Share best practices. Learn new ways to lead an enjoyable life while dealing with diabetic symptoms.