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A diabetes diagnosis can turn your world upside down, and these diagnoses rarely happen in isolation. Diabetes affects not only the person with the disease, but also his or her spouse, siblings, children, and parents.
The whole family dynamic can change due to a diabetes diagnosis. So how do you manage this change?
First of all, the impact diabetes has on families will vary depending on who the diabetic is. A child’s diagnosis leads to much different effects than an adult’s diagnosis.
The most important thing to remember is that diabetes is not a death sentence. Arm yourself with as much information as possible, and the outlook will seem a lot less threatening.
Most children with diabetes are diagnosed with Type 1 at an early age. Parents may be tempted to overemphasize this diagnosis and treat the child differently than his or her siblings, but that’s not the best approach.
While diabetes is a very serious disease, with a little practice it can be managed quite easily. Sit down with the child, and explain to him or her what diabetes means and how life will be a little different from now on. Including siblings in this conversation will help the whole family feel as if they have an important part to play in managing diabetes.
Try not to change the routine too much, as most things can generally stay the same. Diabetic meal plans can often be incorporated into your weekly dinner schedule without too much fuss.
As childhood is a very sensitive time, you may want to consider counseling for the child or for the whole family. A therapist can help the child transition through various phases of childhood while dealing with diabetes.
Another important thing to remember is that you are not alone. A lot of families struggle to deal with a new diabetes diagnosis as well. Online support groups, like the Diabetes Forum at SupportGroups.com, offer an online platform to exchange support and ideas for managing the disease.
Coping with a diabetes diagnosis is often much more straightforward for adults. They can receive information about the disease and associated lifestyle changes directly from their doctor.
In this situation, it’s important to maintain communication with spouses and other family members who may not know as much about the disease. Education and communication are your best tools for going out into the world with diabetes.
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