A type 2 diabetes diagnosis changes the individual’s life, but it also has a ripple effect into the family circle. And for the adult child or caregiver of someone recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, the next step is usually concern, fear for the future, sadness, or some combination of the three.
But what if you transformed those feelings into action? While you’re certainly validated in your emotional response (and you’ll likely encounter those feelings again throughout your relative’s journey with diabetes), the best next step is figuring out a way forward that will help all of you cope.
Independence comes first
First, remember that your parent, spouse or friend is still independent and fully capable of making decisions about his or her lifestyle, care preferences, and treatment options. While it’s normal and natural to want to help, what he or she probably needs most while dealing with the diabetes diagnosis is a listening ear, and your assurance of support when it’s necessary. Yes, it’s important to think about the future and make plans for care, but give him or her time to process the news and come up with her own plans and preferences before you step in.
Speak with compassion
When your parent is ready to have a conversation, approach the topic with sensitivity and compassion: “Mom, how can I best help you? Can we talk about our concerns and come up with some solutions to give both of us peace of mind?”
Setting the tone this way doesn’t guarantee your parent will be receptive, but it’s better than charging forward with your own plan and pushing it on the person that has been diagnosed. As a caregiver, you do have a say, so open communication about your concerns is valid. But compassion and a willingness to work together lays a stronger foundation for this new aspect of your relationship.
Seek solutions together
Every person will react to this kind of diagnosis differently. Some may be in denial for a long time. Some may isolate themselves, and avoid the necessary or recommended lifestyle changes. It’s hard to see someone you care about go through this, but in some cases, a person will take the diagnosis in stride, adjust their lifestyle and routines accordingly, and keep moving forward.
Wherever your parent or relative lands on that spectrum, be patient, though persistent, in suggesting solutions and support. A medical alert device might help you and your loved one feel more secure should an emergency situation arise, especially as the disease progresses and other health concerns may put them at greater risk of something like a fall or a medication interaction — things that require an immediate response. Talk about that option together and how it might benefit you both — i.e. staying connected while maintaining independence. Tech tools like Lively Mobile and its accompanying Link App accomplishes those goals and more.
A diabetes diagnosis may change some things about your parent or relative’s life, but what doesn’t have to change as you move into a caregiver role? Peace of mind. A connected relationship. Their independence. And in the face of what could be a difficult diagnosis, that’s the best outcome possible.