Learning to live with a chronic condition
My parents have been living with diabetes for years, but it wasn’t until recently that I really started to pay attention to how their diabetes affects their everyday lives.
They don’t complain or make a big deal about what they can and can’t do, but after hearing them talk about the specifics of their condition I realised how much work they put into managing it so they can stay active and healthy.
So I wanted to share some of the ways my parents live with their diabetes and keep it from affecting their daily life as much as possible.
Changing our daily routine
My father has type 2 diabetes. To successfully manage it, he needed to change his daily routine.
For example, changing his diet. He often eats his meals in two portions or spends more time cooking so he can manage his restrictions.
He also needed to start taking insulin shots. He used to place the needle in hot water before injecting himself because the heat helped numb the pain.
It was very hard for him. But he made it work because, like most people with diabetes, he didn't have much of a choice.
Adjusting our lifestyle
There are several lifestyle adjustments you and your family may need to make if your parents have diabetes.
We started by changing what we ate. We also began to monitor blood sugar levels regularly, follow medication schedules precisely, and stay active by getting the proper amount of sleep and exercise.
Importantly, we also watch for signs of any dangerous symptoms, such as unexplained weight loss or blurry vision. This is critical so that the disease doesn’t get worse and lead to complications that could be fatal.
Helping dad change his diet
When dad had to change his diet and start taking insulin shots, it was really hard. The transition was very difficult, and it took a heavy toll on him mentally.
But our family got through it by sticking together. We supported each other by finding what foods and meals worked best for his diabetes and making plans accordingly. We made sure that if one of us needed to stop at a restaurant, there was something on the menu he could eat too.
Budgeting the cost of living with diabetes
Diabetes is an expensive chronic condition with an ongoing annual cost. Managing their diabetes costs my parents between Rs 10,000 and Rs 40,000 per year. This includes the cost of their medication, lab work, sugar level monitors, dietary supplements, over-the-counter drugs and special foods.
To manage it, our family needed to recognise these costs, budget for them, and make sure we were prepared.
Finding ways to help
For my family, supporting my father with his diabetes, the most important thing we could do was simply look for ways we could help.
Here are five tips that we found really made a difference:
- Make sure that the person with diabetes eats regularly and has something in their stomach before giving them insulin or any other medications.
- Provide encouragement and emotional support by reminding them of what they can still do and finding ways for them to have fun.
- Encourage them to learn about all aspects of their condition so they understand it better.
- Offer to go grocery shopping or cook dinner together.
- Let them know you're there for them.
A final message from my parents
Since starting the journey of living with diabetes, we’ve found that it’s an ever-changing experience that presents new challenges and goals every day.
We take care of ourselves by taking insulin, eating healthy foods, checking our blood sugar levels regularly, exercising daily, and getting enough sleep at night.
One thing that has always been constant for us is support from family and friends. They have given us lots of encouragement throughout this process.
And we’re grateful for our health, as well as our good fortune in having children who love us unconditionally and want us to be happy.
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