World Diabetes Day 2018-19: The Family’s Role in Preventing or Managing Diabetes

Initiated in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), World Diabetes Day is marked on 14th November every year to spread awareness about the condition.

With a reach of over 1 billion people across 160+ countries, the day essentially addresses the rising concerns surrounding diabetes. Take a look at the following numbers and statistics so you can get a broad view of how serious a threat diabetes is: 522 million is the expected number of people with diabetes by the year 2030 50% of people with diabetes don’t even know that they suffer from the disease 80% of type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle 75% of diabetes patients belong to low- and middle-income nations (including India) Each year, there is a dedicated theme that is focused on and this World Diabetes Day 2018-19, the theme is Family and Diabetes.

Know why we started this piece with some staggering figures?

It is because we wanted to draw your attention to the obvious threat that diabetes poses to mankind and the severe lack of awareness and education about the subject, especially in developing and underdeveloped countries. At Seniority, we strongly believe that the family plays a pivotal role here. Let us look at how family members can contribute to the effective management of diabetes.

How the family can chip in-

As the theme for World Diabetes Day 2018-19 suggests, the family plays a massive role in the diagnosis, treatment, management, care and prevention of the disease. Awareness and education about the signs, symptoms and risk factors are central to the early detection of all types of diabetes. You might already be aware that if diabetes runs in the family, there is a good chance that it will pass on from one generation to the other. There is very little that you can do about your genetic predisposition, but there are several other risk factors that you need to look at so that you and your family members can reduce the risk of developing diabetes (or at least delay it by a few years).

Here are five common risk factors and how families that have a history of diabetes can keep them at bay:

Weight

This one is a no-brainer! Being overweight is one of the key risk factors when it comes to type 2 diabetes.Obesity in itself is not a great thing to possess, and an expanding waistline can only spell D-A-N-G-E-R. Controlling one’s weight and maintaining an acceptable Body Mass Index (BMI) can not only help keep diabetes at bay but also prevent other health problems.

Habits

Addictive habits such as smoking and consuming alcohol are known to cause fatal diseases and also increase the risk of developing diabetes. Steering clear of substance abuse or keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum goes without saying. Unhealthy habits are only going to cause problems in the long run, so make certain that you live a lifestyle that keeps health risks to a minimum.

Lifestyle

Today’s generation is addicted to cell phones, laptops, and television screens. This invariably leads to a lifestyle that can be best described as sedentary. While following an active lifestyle is highly recommended for people of all ages, it is even more important for youngsters and senior citizens.

Fitness

Physical fitness (or a lack thereof) is perhaps the single most vital aspect of staying healthy throughout your life. While hitting the gym and lifting weights is not a prerequisite for an active lifestyle, indulging in physical activities can well and truly lead to better functioning of the body and reduce the risk of threats such as diabetes and other diseases.

Diet

An unhealthy diet can do more harm to one’s body than you would imagine. The lack of nutrition and haphazard eating schedules contribute to the development of a dysfunctional body.

So, what can the family do to keep these risk factors out of the way?

Well, for starters, promoting regular exercise is a great way to ensure that the body stays in good shape. When we talk about diabetes prevention or management, physical fitness and weight management are two crucial aspects that you need to look at. Make sure that you and your loved ones get enough exercise through a range of physical activities that could include going to the gym, practicing yoga, cycling, swimming, functional training or indulging in sports. You could even plan specific days of the week when the family does some sort of physical activity together. Consider getting home a few exercise aids for members of the family who cannot step outside due to health conditions or old age.

Another aspect to consider is the nutritional intake. Consuming plenty of vegetables and fruits can lower the risk of diabetes. Schedule a visit to a nutritionist to figure out what the best diet plan is for you and your family. Stay away from sodas, soft drinks, saturated fat, sugary foods, and excess hard fats and chart out a healthy diet that you can follow throughout the year. Various studies suggest that diabetes patients react better to the care and support that their loved ones provide as opposed to professional caregivers. There is an emotional angle that supports this claim, too. Families that stay together and have strong interpersonal bonds can do a world of good to those suffering from diseases like diabetes.

While we promote self-care, we also realize that it is important for the patient’s family members to take steps towards the efficient monitoring and care that diabetes calls for. Simple things like enabling patients to monitor their own blood glucose levels regularly, checking the feet on a daily basis, cooking and serving foods that are low in saturated fats, providing financial and emotional support for the treatment of diabetes and creating a healthy and happy environment for the patient can make a huge difference in the way diabetes is managed at home.

Remember, it all boils down to three essential things:

Quality of life

Education about prevention and management of diabetes

Economic and moral support

Family participation and involvement in diabetes care can take self-care to another level, so make sure you are equipped with all that you need in order to prevent (or delay) the onset of this disease. Are you (or your family members) at a risk of developing type 2 diabetes? Take this simple test to find out! Here’s looking forward to a healthy, happy and diabetes-free life.