Losing a loved one can be a devastating experience to go through. As humans, we like making sense of death and coming into terms with the loss. We ask ourselves questions and keep wondering what we could have done to avoid their demise. Whether it is a grandparent, an aunt, a sibling or a parent, it is important to go through the stages of grief in order to feel whole again.
What happens when your loved one passes away due to diabetes? 12% of the deaths in the United States is caused by diabetes. Data shows that there is a 90% higher chance of death in people with diabetes than those without diabetes.
If diabetes is prevalent in your family, chances are high that you may be at risk of getting it. Besides obesity, a non-active lifestyle, smoking and unhealthy diet amongst others, genetics is also a factor on whether one will get this disease.
According to the American Diabetes Association, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is:
- 1 in 7 if one of your parents was diagnosed before the age of 50
- 1 in 13 if one of your parents was diagnosed after the age of 50
- 1 in 2, or 50 percent, if both your parents have diabetes
We reached out to some people who’ve had the horrible experience of losing a family member to diabetes. Its real and the pain it causes to these families is immense and life changing. Most of them have themselves been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The fear that it may happen to them constantly looms above their head. Every time that they make any decision in regard to their diabetes management, they fear for their lives and wonder if the same may happen to them.
How do they cope with this reality? How do they overcome fears and frustrations to ensure effective management of their diabetes?
Most answers we received had one common theme: only way to fight fear is to face it. You cannot overcome your demons without facing them and challenging them. While the fear of dying from diabetes is present in their minds, they also know that the only way to overcome it is by doing whatever they can on their end to elongate their life span.
Here is what they shared with us which we are sharing with you. These are simple and yet so powerful tips:
- If you manage and have good control of your diabetes, you will live longer
- Life expectancy with diabetes does decrease but there are ways to prevent it from happening
- Rigorous management of diabetes will ensure you have a long and healthy life
- This means that you cannot give up when things get hard and tough
If you manage and have good control of your diabetes, you will live longer. Having good control of your diabetes means you are eating healthy, are active, do not smoke or drink excessively, get enough sleep and are on top of your diabetes management in general.
You could have days when things are going great and days when things are just not going your way. However, you do not let the bad days overshadow the good ones and allow it to lead you astray from your goals.
I advise reading the following articles:
It is very common for people with diabetes to be depressed or feel hopelessness. It is equally as important to seek a professional’s help to appropriately deal with your depression. Many patients who complained about feeling depressed and losing motivation to treat their diabetes find a new-found desire to manage their diabetes after they have sought out professional help.
Life expectancy with diabetes does decrease but there are ways to prevent it from happening
It is common knowledge that ones’ life expectancy decreases once you have been diagnosed with diabetes.
However, it will keep dropping if you do not manage your diabetes. The good news is that you can decrease the numbers by a lot. A Princeton University study, with 20,000 adults of the ages of around 50 years old as subjects, found that diabetes can cut about 8.5 years off the life expectancy of a person with diabetes.
Most of the deaths occur not due to diabetes but due to the complications of diabetes such as:
- Heart disease
- Kidney failure
- Diabetic retinopathy
- High blood pressure
It cannot be stressed hard enough that if you want to add years back to your life, you have to maintain good blood sugar levels. Keeping your blood sugar levels within the recommended ranges as per your doctor will help prevent diabetes related complications from happening.
Rigorous management of diabetes will ensure you have a long and healthy life
Healthy lifestyle, being active and keeping blood sugar levels in target will lead you to have a long and healthy life. If you haven’t started to, the first step would be learning about carb counting and portion sizes for your meal. Meal planning will ensure that you plan ahead of time and avoid binge or compulsive eating.
If you are invited to a party, let your host know that you have diabetes (if they are not already aware of it). If the host is unable to accommodate your dietary needs, bring a diabetes friendly dish that you can depend on in case there are no other options available. Avoid drinking sugary drinks and make water your best friend!
Exercising is equally important in the management of your diabetes. Find what works for you and do it with intent. Exercising helps your body use glucose for energy and helps your body use insulin in an efficient manner. If you are unsure of what exercise plan you should go for, discuss this with your doctor who may have suggestions or recommendations for you. Keeping a schedule for your exercise times and days will help you keep on track.
Regularly taking your medication to keep your blood sugar levels regulated is another aspect of your diabetes management. Learn how they work with your body and how to store them. If you are encountering any issues with your prescribed medications, be sure to bring this up to your doctor who may put you on other medications.
Along with proper usage of medication, it is also important to make to all medical appointments: your primary doctor, optometrist, podiatrist, certified diabetes educator or anyone else who is part of your care team. Regular appointments and check ups will make sure you are on top of avoiding any unpleasant surprises.
Stress can do so much harm to your body. It is known to raise blood sugar levels. Stress also prevents an efficient diabetes management because you are putting too much pressure on yourself. If you see patterns of what or who causes you stress, you may want to learn to deal with that and take control of your diabetes. Exercise helps with stress. If nothing helps with lowering your stress, you may consider seeking a professional’s help with stress management.
Rigorous diabetes management also includes taking care of yourself when you are ill with any other illness (think flu, a cold, etc.), regularly testing and recording your blood sugars, stopping to smoke, getting enough sleep, etc.
This means that you cannot give up when things get hard and tough
No matter what happens, do not give up on yourself and on your diabetes. The road will have many bumps, some bigger than the last one, some harder to climb onto, some pulling back down over and over again. Frustrations that come with dealing with diabetes can cause a lot of anguish and feeling like a failure. In such cases, people tend to give up and let their diabetes go to the sidelines. If you do that, it will go from bad to worst.
If you are finding it hard to focus or if you are losing hope, seek a professional’s help. If you are having a hard time figuring it all out, reach out to your care team. They are there to help you go through this. Local or online support groups are a great way to meet others who may be going through the same ups and downs are you.
People in those groups share best practice tips that can help your diabetes management come easier, experiences that will make you feel like you are not alone, healthy and easy recipes you may not previously thought of making, etc.
Genetics and diabetes
You already have a rigorous diabetes management and it is working for you. But you are interested in finding out the role of genetics with all of this. As mentioned earlier in the article, if someone in your family has diabetes, chances are you are at risk as well. How? Studies demonstrate that type 2 diabetes is the result of both environmental factors and genetics.
According to twin-based studies, 20%-80% estimates for the heritability of type 2 diabetes comes from family. The lifetime risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is 40% if you have a parent with type 2 diabetes and 70% if both your parents have type 2 diabetes. This also spills through to first degree relatives of individuals who have type 2 diabetes by about three times. They are more likely to develop the disease compared to someone who does not have a family history of diabetes.
If you are unsure that you have diabetes or if you suspect that you may have diabetes, visit your doctor and get them to get you tested. The sooner you find out about your diabetes, the sooner you can start treating it and preventing any complications.
Losing a loved to diabetes is heart wrenching. It is important to grieve their loss and yet equally as important to know how this can be avoided in the future so you or a different relative will not go through the same. Those who know about diabetes and its management can tell you that diabetes related complications can be avoided. This can be difficult and take a constant effort on your end, but it can and must be done.
Diabetes risk factors include genetics. If you have diabetes, you should also educate your children on how you take care of yourself and manage your diabetes. Watching you take control of your diabetes will instill good habits in them in the event that they may need them in order to cope with their diabetes one day. If you live a successful and long life, they will be encouraged to do so as well. Lead by example!
We would like to invite you to write your comments and thoughts in the comment box below. How do you believe you can add years to your life? Have you lost someone you love to diabetes? How did you promise yourself that you will not let it happen to you?
TheDiabetesCouncil Article | Reviewed by Dr. Christine Traxler MD on September 01, 2018