World Diabetes Day: Family support is key to successfully managing diabetes

6:44 am Health Care

Today is World Diabetes Day and the focus of the day this year is on the family.

Diabetes is a chronic life-long condition. For this reason, it does not affect just the person, who has the disease. Diabetes affects everyone – family and friends.

Diabetes can usually be controlled with lifestyle changes, medication and self-care measures. This is where the role of the family in type 2 diabetes comes into play. They can help patients more accepting of their diagnosis, encourage compliance to treatment and cope with stress, fear and other emotional aspects of the disease (depression, anxiety). Support from family and friends go a long way in improving outcomes by preventing or delaying prevent diabetes-related complications.

All international guidelines on type 2 diabetes recommend self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) as an integral component of management.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), SMBG can aid in diabetes control by:

  • “facilitating the development of an individualized blood glucose profile, which can then guide health care professionals in treatment planning for an individualized diabetic regimen
  • giving people with diabetes and their families the ability to make appropriate day-to-day treatment choices in diet and physical activity as well as in insulin or other agents
  • improving patients’ recognition of hypoglycemia or severe hyperglycemia
  • enhancing patient education and patient empowerment regarding the effects of lifestyle and pharmaceutical intervention on glycemic control”

Not just management, families can also help in prevention of diabetes by learning about the various risk factors for diabetes and encourage healthy habits amongst themselves.

Take a brisk walk together every day. Choose healthy foods for meals. Omit refined carbohydrates (white sugar, white rice and white maida) in diet.  Losing even a modest amount of weight (6-7kgs) through diet and exercise can reduce the likelihood of getting type 2 diabetes by as much as 58% in high-risk people. Help the patient to quit smoking or other tobacco use. Older adults can set an example for youngsters in the family.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle since childhood becomes very important as type 2 diabetes is no longer a disease of old age.

It is easier to adopt and adhere to healthy lifestyle when families make the changes together.

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri Awardee

President Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)

Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Past National President IMA

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