Raising a child with diabetes can seem like a 24x7 job on most days.
Having a child with diabetes requires entire families to make huge dietary and lifestyle changes that affect their daily lives. Specifically, the child and the parents have to add a range of daily behaviours (monitoring glucose, taking insulin etc.) that can often be stressful and result in frequent arguments. As diabetes is a chronic condition, both parents and children are at the risk of ‘diabetes burnout’ and lose the motivation to efficiently perform every diabetes task like monitoring blood glucose levels, recording blood glucose levels, counting carbohydrates, and taking insulin.
In such a scenario, online support communities like the diabetes support community on CareSpace are emerging as an invaluable resource for parents. On the CareSpace communities, parents of diabetic children come together for exchange of information, staying updated on the latest research, expert advice, practical strategies, and finding crucial support. Apart from joining the existing communities, parents also have the option of creating a private community and extending invites to their family, PTA members, babysitters, caregivers, neighbours, school staff etc to collaborate in diabetes management.
When your child is diagnosed with diabetes the adjustment has to be instant and therefore the learning curve is very steep. However, there are a few basics that you can take care of and make the process easier on yourself and your child. So, here are 5 key challenges of raising a diabetic child and how the tools and support from Diabetes community on CareSpace can help you navigate them -
- Coming to terms with your child’s diagnosis -
For the parent of a young child, a diabetes diagnosis is a much harder blow than for the child herself. It often comes as a great shock and parents do feel inadequate in both handling their own emotions and providing the necessary support to their children. It is not uncommon to see parents to become workaholics, develop eating disorders, get addicted to alcohol, or become overprotective in the extreme. So, handling the diagnosis is the first step and if done correctly, can set the right example for the child. Coming to terms with the fact that your child has diabetes is also about understanding how to communicate the same information age-appropriately to the child.
Interacting with fellow parents who have handled a similar diagnosis successfully and are supporting their children can provide a huge perspective shift. They can also make you feel less alone and provide you with the reassurance that you can handle it all. In fact, the parents on Diabetes support community do that for each other every day. The deep search tools on the platform will help you find other members who have children with a similar type of diabetes or fellow parents from your own city. Then you can connect with them through private messaging for personal interactions. The therapists and counsellors on the expert panel will act as a critical resource in helping you understand and manage your emotions post-diagnosis. You can also get recommendations for local support groups from fellow members and attend their meetings for support.
2. Managing your child’s blood sugar levels -
Thanks to tech advancements like continuous glucose monitor (small sensor placed under the skin and connected to a transmitter, it reads blood sugar levels every few minutes) managing your child’s insulin levels has become easier than ever. Along with glucose levels, it is also a good idea to keep a record of meals or any activities that affect their blood sugar wherever possible in order to get a complete picture of their body’s response. Such knowledge will help your doctor devise a dosage and regime that is tailor-made and therefore fits in with your child’s priorities. Finally, apart from the regimen itself, you should also help your child become comfortable and confident with managing their diabetes (checking blood sugar, taking insulin shots etc.) in public.
CareSpace platform has a handy tracker that lets you keep an eye on indicators like weight, BP, and glucose levels. This will not only create a personal system of accountability but also provide important data while consulting with your diabetologist. The tracker also lets you set reminders for timing and dosage of medications. This will be invaluable as a faulty or missed insulin dose can result in serious complications and could even prove fatal. You can connect with doctors and diabetologists on the expert panel and get all the info and clarifications you need regarding your glucose monitoring and maintaining options. The experts and fellow members could also give you strategic advice on how to educate your children to monitor their own glucose levels and what corrective measures to take in different scenarios. Finally, the social media feeds and news feeds on the platform help you stay updated on the latest developments in treatment options.
3. Helping the child cope with emotional issues -
Diabetes is a chronic condition with crucial daily care routine. Due to the nature of the condition, its potential complications, and the grind of the diabetes routine, children growing up with diabetes often go through complex emotional challenges. Children with diabetes are usually vulnerable to mental health conditions like depression, aggression, withdrawal, stress & anxiety, eating disorder etc. If you have more than one child, it is also possible that the siblings feel neglected and left out due to the extra time, attention, and care that you give to the diabetic child. As a parent, you should be aware of these feelings and help them understand the need for supporting their brother or sister.
The therapists, counsellors, and doctors on the expert panel of CareSpace community can be an invaluable resource for you in understanding the emotional issues your child is facing. The Q & A session with these experts can help you find specific solutions to the particular issue that your child is undergoing. Additionally, you can also join other support communities like depression, social media addiction, stress and anxiety etc. on the platform to find more help. Fellow parents in the community also help a great deal by sharing their own experiences in managing the psychological and emotional complications of diabetes. This will not only empower you to expect and deal with such issues as they arise but also preempt many of them.
4. Helping your child adjust to the new dietary regimen
For people with diabetes, carb counting has to become second nature because the amount and type of carbohydrates in your food have a huge influence on the glucose levels as well as the insulin dosage. For packaged foods, you can easily know the carb content through the label and for the foods you cook at home it will be a good idea to keep info about carb content of common foods handy. Everyone responds to carbs differently. So, it will be a good idea to consult a dietician to develop a practical meal plan that incorporates your child’s preferences, nutritional needs, and medication.
The nutritionists and dieticians on the expert panel of the CareSpace platform will help you understand the dietary needs of your child and modify your cooking accordingly. The members frequently share diabetic friendly recipes with each other. Having access to this helps to not only add variety so that the child is excited to eat but also helps to add foods that they usually might not prefer. From fellow members and experts, you can also find simple replacements that let you enjoy favourite dishes — pizza with cauliflower base and zucchini /carrot noodles are a good example of this. If you are travelling or just want to have a family dinner at a restaurant, fellow members can recommend facilities that provide diabetic-friendly options. The nutritionists could also help you check out the menu and find replacements for specific ingredients so that your child can enjoy the family meal without stressing about glucose levels.
5. Finding safe activities
Physical activity is important for children with diabetes as it not only helps to manage diabetes but also helps to avoid complications that usually accompany it. Glucose management is the key to ensuring the safety of your child while they play sports, go hiking, or take a swimming lesson. Physical activity can cause blood glucose to drop and some children might experience a delayed response resulting in low blood sugars hours after physical activity. So, diabetic children should take some precautions while playing sports like checking the glucose levels before and after play or eating extra carbs before playing etc. It will also be a good idea to prepare a kit that contains snacks, glucose tablets, fruit juice, water, and medications for your child to take to practices and games.
On the CareSpace platform, you can get recommendations from fellow members about coaches and facilities that have support services and coaches who are trained to deal with complications relating to the condition. This will help your child to indulge in activities that he/she loves with minimal risks. You could also use the deep search tools of the platform to find fellow parents near you and set up playdates for your young children or find outdoor activities that your children can do together. This will let you focus on your own relationships and professional commitments without worrying about the safety of your child constantly.
For parents with diabetic children, it is important to make its management a family affair rather than managing it as a special treatment for the child. This will help the child overcome his/her reservations and also avoids feelings of discontent among the siblings. Your children will know they are different from their friends but with proper support and guidance, they can adapt and lead healthy lives.
So, if your child is diagnosed with diabetes, head to the Diabetes support communities on CareSpace today for finding practical strategies, expert advice, and 24x7 support.