Our recent research has found that – alongside those living with the condition – parents and carers of children and adults with diabetes experience emotional or mental health problems.
The online survey showed that more than three quarters (77%) of respondents said that they sometimes or often feel down because of their family member’s diabetes.
One third of carers also wanted their family member to see more of a diabetes specialist nurse (DSN), while 11% wanted a trained counsellor or psychologist to support the children or adults with diabetes they care for.
More than a quarter (27%) said that if they could change one thing about the healthcare their families receive for diabetes it would be to receive more information and support to manage the condition day-to-day.
The factors impacting on parents’ and carers’ emotional wellbeing are numerous and complex. In further insight work, carers of children with Type 1 diabetes, for example, told us it was challenging when people around them did not understand the realities of their child’s condition, and said that emotional support would reduce the strain on them to ‘appear strong’ at all times.
Conversely, carers of older people with Type 2 have said that having the opportunity to be themselves, not just a carer, was important for their wellbeing, as well as support from more experienced peers.
These findings illustrate the wide-reaching impact a diagnosis of diabetes has not only on the person living with the condition, but those who care about and for them. Our earlier research showed that three in five people with diabetes experience emotional problems or mental health issues because of their condition, with 18.6% using support or counselling from a trained professional.
The theme for this World Diabetes Day is family, and we are taking the opportunity to highlight the impact that the condition can have not just on those living with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, but also on their families. We’re promoting the range of support it makes available to those living with the condition, and those who support someone who does.
There are 3.7 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK − about 90% are estimated to have Type 2 and 10% have Type 1.
Dan Howarth is Head of Care at Diabetes UK. He said:
“Diabetes doesn’t just affect the person living with condition; the impact is felt by everyone around them. A diagnosis will change the life not only of the person diagnosed, but also their friends, loved ones and those that provide them with care.
“Caring for a child or adult with diabetes can sometimes be hard, and access to specialist information and support for both those with diabetes and their families are instrumental in safely managing the condition.
“But with the right support and access to information, families and carers can help people with diabetes avoid devastating complications, such as amputations, blindness, kidney failure and heart disease.”