Type 2 diabetes: Control, prevention should be a family affair

type2familyDoes someone in your family have type 2 diabetes? If so, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) urges you to do everything you can to help your loved one stay healthy—and to prevent other family members from developing the disease.

“For people living with diabetes or at risk for type 2 diabetes, family support is critical to staying healthy,” noted the NIH in a statement marking November’s designation as National Diabetes Month. “Preventing and managing diabetes involves the entire family.”

Toward that goal, the NIH offers the following suggestions for helping a loved one with type 2 diabetes maintain his or her health and avoid—or at least delay—some of the serious complications that can accompany this disease:

  • Offer to help organize the person’s home copies of his or her health care records. This diabetes care record from the National Diabetes Education Program may help you get started.
  • If you have questions for your loved one’s doctor, write them down. Then arrange to go with the person to his or her next appointment so you can get answers.
  • Help the person stick with a healthy meal plan by shopping together at the grocery. Choose items low in calories, sodium, saturated and trans fats, and added sugar. You may spend a little more time in the food aisles, but your entire family will benefit when you compare the food nutrition labels on different products. (Read about nutrition labels here.)
  • Buy a cookbook of recipes designed specifically for people with diabetes, and offer to make some meals.
  • Encourage the entire household to get more exercise. For example, schedule a family walk after dinner every evening.
  • If your loved one seems frustrated with the challenges of living with type 2 diabetes, invite him or her to talk to you about it. You don’t need to offer advice. Just being a good listener can be a big help.

Anyone who has a close family member with type 2 diabetes is at risk for developing the disease too. Visit the Diabetes health topic center to learn about preventing type 2 diabetes, take a diabetes quiz and learn about some of the health complications that can accompany the disease.

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