If someone in your family has diabetes, in many ways it’s your disease, too. Whether it’s your child dealing with the daily insulin injections that characterize Type 1 diabetes or a spouse who has to watch what they eat, you are involved with their health care in more ways than you might realize.
Your loved one needs you. It’s important to Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm that you understand that. As the board-certified podiatrist at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center, Dr. Wilhelm can tell you that diabetes affects the nerves, skin, and blood vessels of the feet, leaving them vulnerable to infection, neuropathy, and arterial disease. So when you support a diabetic in your family, you’re helping to keep their feet safe and healthy.
Here are some ways that you can be involved:
- Recognize the signs of low blood sugar. These can include mental symptoms like confusion, “spaciness,” and mood swings but also physical symptoms like dizziness, tremors, or extreme hunger.
- Be supportive of the lifestyle changes necessary. Make sure there are healthy foods in the house like plenty of fresh vegetables and whole grains. Encourage your loved one to stick to an exercise plan and join in as you are able. It’s great moral support!
- Learn with them. Some diabetics have to test their blood as many as 8 times per day. Understand how they monitor and control their blood sugar issues – and know what to do if there’s a crisis.
- Be a sympathetic ear. It can get tiring living with diabetes because you never get a break from it. If fear or fatigue set in, be supportive. If you think depression may be an issue, help your loved one seek professional help.
- Seek out external support when you need it. There are tons of social programs, workshops, and support groups for diabetics at hospitals and medical centers throughout the greater D.C. area. Family therapy can help you deal with the demands of the disease together.
And finally, especially when it comes to issues of the diabetic foot, you can get in touch with us at our office in Centreville, VA. Encourage your loved one to make an appointment at least once a year to have their feet assessed and to have any developing problems quickly treated, before they become major issues. Call us at (703) 996-3000.