With the growing epidemic of diabetes in our society, it’s no wonder that many people are finding they have an ageing parent with the disease. If you’re one of this burgeoning group of people, you may be discovering that this parent who once took such good care of you is now not taking very good care of themselves. And with a diagnosis of diabetes, them taking care of themselves is an even greater concern for you. No diagnosis yet? Here are the signs to look for that might indicate your parent is diabetic:
frequent need to urinate
shaking or tremors
anxiety or irritability
dizziness and/or confusion
irregular or fast heart beat
Once you’re sure that your parent needs your help, there’s no going back. But don’t feel overwhelmed just yet – there are a lot of ways that you can help them, and a lot of resources out there to help support you in your efforts. Here are some tips:
1. Get educated. Knowing about the risks, the warning signs, and treatment options for diabetes can go a long way to helping you be prepared. And being prepared will help give you a better feeling of control and reassurance that everything is going to be okay with your loved one.
2. Manage the team. You, your parent, and the doctor(s) involved are a team now. Make sure that you’re involved in communicating with your parent and their medical professionals so you can not only see that all the bases are being covered, but so that you can have some peace of mind about it too.
3. Get active. If your parent is not very active, invite him/her out on outings with you, even that just means a walk after dinner. Try to get them involved in activities that they might enjoy as well. Some examples are gardening, mall-walking, art classes, Tai Chi or light yoga. Even spending more time with the rest of their family doing things can help them move those muscles more. Click here for more tips about exercising with diabetes.
4. Get cooking. Help your parent plan meals by cooking for them and showing them how delicious healthy food can be! It’s one thing to tell them what to eat – it’s another to show them. Click here for more tips on eating with diabetes.
5. Find support. Join a support group that will help you cope – you’re not alone and there are tons of people online and in person who want to show you just that. Being proactive and discovering that you have someone there when you need them can make you that much more helpful to that parent who loves you.
Switching roles and becoming the care-giver can be a scary process. Sometimes it’s gradual, while other times it comes along quite quickly. Try to be patient with yourself and your parent through this process: avoid using words like ‘good’ or ‘bad’ with the both of you. You’re both learning and growing, so adapting to diabetes doesn’t have to be a torturous ordeal. It can simply be something that you do together.
By Richard Lobbenberg, Acupuncturist and TCM Practitioner
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