Diabetes is not just something that happens to one person – it happens to a whole family. Parents, siblings, spouses, partners, grandparents, friends and loved ones, are all affected. I clearly remember how my sister had to suffer the restricted “diabetic diet” of the 1980’s when I was diagnosed and the extra attention and worries heaped upon and around my life…I also know my parents had to deal with their grief and anxiety about my future while I challenged the restrictions placed upon me. Diabetes is certainly a central part of our lives and my children and husband have no choice but to come along for the ride. A recent study, DAWN2 shows impact of diabetes distress on family members of people with diabetes, and that there are negative impact of diabetes on quality of life not only for people who have diabetes, but also on the lives of family members.
DAWN2 Shows Impact of Diabetes Distress on Family Members
The DAWN2 study results showed about one-third of family members in the study reported experiencing a “notable burden and negative impact of diabetes”. This included family members reporting the negative impact of living with someone who has diabetes on their emotional wellbeing (45%), financial situation (35%), leisure activities (31%) and physical health (27%).
Family members also had high levels of distress (40%) and being worried about the risk of hypos for their loved one with diabetes (61%). This is a high number and shows the real worry for family about hypos. On the flipside family members also experienced some positive impacts of diabetes. For example, 35% reported a positive impact on at least one aspect of life, such as in their relationship with the person who has diabetes, family, friends and peers, and on work/studies.
Although 37% of family members said they were frustrated because they were not sure how to really help the person with diabetes who they lived with, 39% said they would like to be more involved in caring for their loved one with diabetes. Specifically, 46% said they wanted to “help the person with diabetes deal with his or her feelings regarding diabetes and living with this chronic condition”. You can see the full results on the Dawn2 report.
Family Support is Important
The importance of family support for people with diabetes is widely acknowledged for the difference it can make to self-management outcomes. However, families need psychosocial and education resources to support the person with diabetes with whom they live and to reduce the impact of Diabetes Distress on family members.
There must be open communication between the person living with diabetes and their families – we wrote about this recently and have more information here. Most importantly set up a channel of communication where everyone can share their feelings and understands their role diabetes plays in your lives,and don’t lock each other out.
Are your family members involved in your diabetes?