Coping With a Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis

Part of a series on how to care for your aging parents. 

Every tenth American adult has diabetes.

That may sound like an outrageous statement, but it was a claim recently made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…

Coping With a Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis

 

…which estimates that 29 million people cope with the disease across the country. In the CDC’s estimation, about a fourth of Americans who have diabetes live with it unknowingly.1

If you live with diabetes yourself, you have an intimate understanding of what it takes to manage it. If you are not particularly familiar with diabetes and it has affected your Mom or Dad in retirement, there are some Type 2 diabetes facts you should know about.

Obesity does not “cause” Type 2 diabetes.

Being overweight definitely raises the risk of developing the disease, but there is no direct causal relationship. Family history is also a major factor. There are many heavy-set people who will never have Type 2 diabetes, and there are many “fit” people or people of normal weight who eventually may.2

Type 2 diabetes is not about a lack of insulin.

Type 1 diabetes is precisely about that, but Type 2 diabetes is about insulin failing to work properly in the body. Those diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes often have adequate insulin levels (although their insulin production may become inadequate with time). People with Type 2 diabetes commonly take medications like metformin and sitagliptin to control the disease, with no insulin injections necessary.2

Type 2 diabetes means watching one’s diet & insulin levels. Getting enough exercise is also crucial. As sitagliptin, metformin, and other widely prescribed drugs used to control Type 2 diabetes do not lower blood sugar, exercising will not endanger someone with Type 2 diabetes.

What is daily life like with Type 2 diabetes?

Daily life is normal, with a few adjustments.

One, the diabetic must try and avoid stress and diet lapses that could cause a jump in blood sugar. Eating the wrong way and straining the immune system can lead to serious situations.

Two, living with Type 2 diabetes means constantly monitoring blood sugar levels with test strips. Test strips and readouts provide information that can help a diabetic fine-tune his or her diet, exercise regimen, and medication schedule. Yet while regular, daily glucose monitoring is vital for those with Type 1 diabetes, there is some disagreement on how much it actually aids those with Type 2 diabetes. Some studies indicate that it greatly helps people with Type 2 diabetes control glucose levels; other studies see no measurable benefit from regular monitoring. 3,4

Getting to know others with Type 2 diabetes…

…may help your Mom or Dad as they adjust to managing the disease. Support groups can offer your parent a candid atmosphere for questions and information sharing. You may want to introduce your Mom or Dad to dlife.com, a very well-regarded website which has provided information and an online community for diabetics for some years now.

Above all, avoid joining the “food police” – that is, avoid watching your Mom or Dad’s sugar or carb intake like a hawk. In time, they will know more about what to eat (and when and when not to eat it) than you will. While well-meaning, the “food police” are a source of annoyance to many diabetics. The fact is that diabetics can eat anything, as long as they watch their glucose levels. The American Diabetes Association once told diabetics to avoid sugar, but it stopped making that recommendation in 1994. Today, it is recognized that potatoes can raise glucose levels in the blood more than sugar. There are situations in which glucose levels drop and sugar intake stabilizes them.5

Can Type 2 diabetes be cured?

No cure has been found, although constant “breakthroughs” make the news as possibilities: weight loss surgery, this or that drug. The right meal plan, medications and exercise can do much to manage the disease.

Prediabetes can be reversed.

The CDC believes that 86 million Americans have prediabetes – more than a third of the U.S. population aged 20 or older. Prediabetes may be reversed through consistent exercise and eating a balanced, healthy diet. The CDC estimates that without such lifestyle choices, more than 30% of those diagnosed with prediabetes will develop full-blown diabetes with five years.1,6

Citations.

1 – medscape.com/viewarticle/826528  [6/11/14]

2 – healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes/myths-and-misconceptions#3  [11/4/15]

3 – fool.com/investing/general/2015/01/24/no-more-needle-pricks-potentially-game-changing-ne.aspx  [1/24/15]

4 – philly.com/philly/health/20151206_Living_with_diabetes__Testing_glucose_levels_without_going_broke.html  [12/6/15]

5 – dlife.com/diabetes-food-and-fitness/what_do_i_eat/mendosa_food_police  [6/14/13]

6 – health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2015/06/23/you-have-prediabetes-now-what  [6/23/15]

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Jeffrey Biro
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Jeffrey Biro

Jeff’s two passions in life are his family and the Phoenix Suns. He married his high school sweetheart immediately after college. He is a dutiful father to his 3 beautiful daughters.
Jeffrey Biro
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