Oz: Managing Mom’s diabetes should be a family affair

Q: When my mom was first diagnosed with diabetes, she took charge, got in touch with a diabetes educator, kept up with her meds, and her A1Cs came down. But lately she seems to be neglecting herself and is giving me lip service when I ask her about her numbers. What can I do? — Martha K., Alexandria, Va.

A: Your mom isn’t alone. Millions of folks have problems managing diabetes. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey revealed that about 18 percent of folks age 45 to 65 with diabetes skip or delay filling prescriptions and taking their meds to save money.

And economics isn’t the only reason people let their management of the disease slide. Sometimes diabetes just doesn’t seem like such a health threat. One doctor we know of says she wishes it hurt when patients’ glucose level spiked, because then people would take steps to control it before they suffered irreversible complications, like blindness or amputations.

Other times, people with diabetes develop diabetes burnout. They become discouraged and exhausted because their blood sugar jackrabbits and they can’t seem to get it under control. So here’s what we suggest:

Assure your mom that she has support from the family — in whatever form she wants and needs — and remind her that no one expects her to be perfect. The Joslin Diabetes Institute wants her to know this: “You should forgive yourself for the occasional glucose fluctuation; you’ll be relieved of the stress associated with trying to achieve perfection, and you’ll likely reap more rewards for this kind of approach in the long term.”

Help her maintain regular contact with her medical care team, starting with her primary care physician. Disengaging from your health care team is a classic indicator of diabetes denial.

Suggest contacting a diabetes educator again or joining a diabetes support…

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