May 22, 2013

Does Your Family Resent Your Diabetes?

Do you really know what the members of your family think about your diabetes? I certainly don't know. Yes, I know what my wife thinks, and I admit that it does not agree with what I think. Our beliefs are at polar opposites and therefore seldom a topic of conversation. My children say very little about my diabetes and this is probably a good thing since they no longer are under the same roof.

Therefore, it was with more than casual interest that I read about this study. Yes, it is a survey study and I discount the findings as being completely accurate. The numbers are still damming and we need to be aware that in many families, there is no support for the person with diabetes. For many, other family members still consider diabetes a lifestyle disease and believe the person with diabetes is to blame.

The statistics from the survey:
#1. 30% think their families blame them for getting diabetes.
#2. 40% say their families are not fully supportive of their efforts to manage their diabetes.
#3. 25% think their families resent them for having diabetes.
#4. 57% say their families don't make sacrifices to make it easier for them to manage their diabetes.
#5. 50% of respondents believe that their families are afraid of their diagnosis.
#6. 25% of respondents believe they are ashamed of their diagnosis.
#7. 55% believe that their families are living a healthier life as a result of their diabetes.
#8. 30% say their families join them in their exercise or physical activities.

This is the really disconcerting fact from the survey. Those who said their families did not fully support them did a significantly poorer job of managing their diabetes than those who said they had their family's support. While it is easy to believe this, I have to ask why they cannot develop good habits and show their families that they can do great management, maybe in spite of their lack of support.

Not covered in this survey is the number of family breakups as a result of diabetes. I don't doubt there are some, but for some this may have just added to the desire to end a marriage. Of the fourteen members in our peer-to-peer group, only five of us are married. Many of the group had lost a mate before diagnosis and just decided to stay single. Only one has divorced after diagnosis and has only stated that diabetes did not cause the breakup. He does admit that the stress of the situation may have been the trigger for the development of his diabetes.

HealthEngage President and co-founder Michael Slage said, "This study shows that many people with diabetes still do not feel that they get the support at home that they need. The diabetes community, both healthcare professionals and the broader industry, need to focus more resources on educating and raising awareness among the families of people with diabetes. HealthEngage has taken a holistic approach to helping users manage diabetes beyond glucose tools. It's time for diabetes efforts to also be inclusive of the families not just the person fighting the disease."

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