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Supporting those living with Type 1 Diabetes & coping with stress

Edited: 24.04.2024

Anne-Charlotte Ficheroulle

Pharmacist, Digital Innovation Manager, A4D

1. The learning and acceptance of Type 1 Diabetes in your life.

When a person is diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, carers often feel it as a traumatic and challenging life event. They realise the harsh consequences of the diagnosis for their child’s quality of life, life expectancy, and daily routines. Slowly, they also realize that this new reality has direct implications for the whole family.

Managing diabetes in young people requires changes in routines, in attention, in diet, and in lifestyle. It can be hard to come to terms with the idea that it’s something that will need to be managed for the rest of their life. It’s normal to feel grief and sadness at this stage.

Many carers also feel guilty about the diabetic’s condition and wonder if they could have prevented it somehow. Some carers also might feel unsure about taking on the tasks of caring for them, such as giving medicines and helping them follow a meal plan. It is also common to worry about recognizing symptoms of a diabetes problem and getting the right medical help.

All those feelings are shared among all carers of kids with Type 1 Diabetes and it is completely normal to feel this distress but don’t forget that you are not alone. You can always find support and help from the doctors and nurses, your relatives and family.

2. Dealing with feelings.

Many parents and carers experience emotional and psychological stress after the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in their children or dependant, if you experience similar problems, please be reassured that you are not alone. The difficulty here is double as you have to cope with your own frustration, sorrow and anxiety but at the same time you have to contain the anxiety and sorrow of the one affected with diabetes.

The first step to cope with your own feelings is to educate yourself about Type 1 Diabetes. The Hello Type 1 program will provide parents and carers the key information needed to understand the disease and the best ways to manage it but you can also always get answers from the diabetes care team caring for your child or dependent. Learning about Type 1 Diabetes and its management will help you to gain a feeling of control and understanding. It will also allow you to be able to better help and support the one affected with diabetes and to understand how they can manage the condition every day and help to cope with their own emotions.

Don’t forget that you can also find support with your family. Try to talk openly about all of these feelings with your family. They can help you and share some responsibilities of caring for a person with diabetes.

3. How can I help?

In order to support your child or person with diabetes, you first have to be able to recognize their psychological and emotional state and to have the courage as a parent to address it.

Acknowledge feelings by checking in with them regularly. It’s important to be curious and to explore possible distress that a diabetic may feel. Try to listen to everything they have to say before bringing up your own feelings.

It’s really important to find a good balance in your communication. You have to show concern and interest by asking caring questions about their well-being but at the same time try to empower them by emphasizing that Type 1 Diabetes is not the end of the world.

You can listen to their thoughts and frustrations, try to answer them and reassure them that with the routines and disciplines integrated in his life, it will help them to live a normal life and will even give them great advantages later in life (i.e. strength and better commitment to succeed at school and later at university & work).

It’s important that you help them to build independence. It can be difficult, especially at the beginning, to resist the urge to overprotect your child or person with diabetes. With encouragement and support they have to learn how to take on some responsibilities for managing their diabetes like medication or meal planning. It will have a positive and confidence-building effect.

4. A family involvement.

When someone has diabetes, it affects the entire family. If you have other children or dependents without chronic disease, you may notice that they might resent the extra attention that the person with diabetes gets. Remember to also take care and show attention to your other family members to avoid any extra tension in your family. You can involve them in the education of Type 1 Diabetes and ask them to assist. It should be a team effort from the whole family.

Good, supportive communication and positive reinforcement have showed real improvements in blood glucose control and general Type 1 Diabetes management. People living with Type 1 Diabetes can live a long, happy and full life like any other person.

5. Key Takeaways

A diabetes diagnosis isn’t an easy thing to deal with, especially when diabetes can be a lifelong condition that needs to be managed well. For parents of children with diabetes in particular, the stress of caring for a child with diabetes can sometimes be too much and can even affect their lives and how they care for their children.

This is why it is important for parents to not neglect their own health, and take steps to manage their stress. If some extra help is needed, there is no shame in asking a relative, close friend, or even hiring a nanny to help out around the house just so you could take care of your child and manage your stress better.

Icon Disclaimer:

You are not alone!

There are many people who have the condition.

on the Type 1 Facebook community.