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THE FAMILY AND DIABETES

The family

A family is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. By consanguinity, they are related by blood ties, or from the same descendants. Persons are family by affinity, if their relationship is through marriage, kinship, tribe, professional, religion etc. While family by co-residence refers to people living together in the same environment, share same office, etc. Irrespective of these types, people have derived support from individuals or groups they consider as family.


Diabetes

A disease condition in which the body’s ability to process food properly is impaired leading to high glucose (sugar) in the body. The symptoms of Diabetes vary from no symptom at all, to excessive passage of urine, excessive thirst, excessive hunger and weight loss, amongst others. Presence of Diabetes is confirmed by early testing. And when confirmed, it is controlled by proper drug intake, appropriate diet and exercise.


What is the family’s role in development of diabetes?

The Family has a major role in development of Diabetes and otherwise. The Family genetics can predispose an individual to the condition as it is considered a familial disease. However, risk for the disease does not translate to the development of the disease.

Family dietary practices, which describes the type of food the family eats, and timing of eating. Families that generally crave for fast foods and low fibre diets increase the risk of development of Diabetes especially if there is genetic risk already. Timing of eating is also important as poor eating habits such as sleeping almost immediately after dinner may increase risk of weight gain.

Family’s attitude to exercise; a family that encourage more sedentary lifestyle than exercising, may expose it’s members to early development of diabetes through increased weight gain.

Family’s health seeking behaviour; poor health seeking behaviour can lead to worsening of diseases and late diagnosis. Early detection of impaired fasting blood glucose may prevent development of diabetes itself.

Family’s cultural and religious practices; attitudes that generally discourage proper health care seeking when ill or religious beliefs that limit how much of health instructions families should adhere to, can affect development of or complications of diabetes as with every other disease.


How can diabetes affect the family when it has developed?

Diabetes can affect the family in a number of ways when it has developed. The family’s finances and resources are most obviously affected, as there is need for funds to purchase drugs, need for special diets, the tests and hospital visits etc

The family can be also faced with increased care burden if complications develop or even burden of insulin therapy.

Family interactivity and quality time shared is reduced in ill health of a member because of the demands of care.


How can the family support the member who has Diabetes?

The family serves as possibly the greatest source of support a patient with Diabetes can have. Adherence support for the member, supporting drugs purchase, intake, and clinic visits, go a long way in preventing complications and ensuring optimal quality of life.

In order to promote good glucose control and prevent complication, the family diet can be adjusted to incorporate healthy prescription diet for the Diabetic patient to encourage adoption of the dietary changes needed.

The family exercise practises can also increase outdoor activities and by so, encouraging exercise. A couple can encourage each other for strolls etc


How can the family prevent diabetes?

As stated earlier genetic predisposition is not equal to disease. Therefore proper dietary practices and healthy eating habits should be learnt from childhood.

Exercise lifestyle as a family is desired so as to prevent sedentary lifestyle.

Regular health checks especially if unusual symptoms appear – for early detection and prevention of complications.


Conclusion

Belonging to a particular family may make an individual at risk of developing Diabetes, however, the genetic risk can be prevented from manifesting if measures such as DIET and EXERCISE are adequately applied by the Family.

Also, when Diabetes is present in a Family, the success of care of such an individual derives greatly from the family support that is received.

Do all to PREVENT Diabetes and in the event it has been diagnosed, do all to SUPPORT the affected family member.


Dr AKINJIDE O. OGUNDOKUN MBBS, MPH, FWACP
Consultant Family Physician,
Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile Ife

COMPONENT HEALTH FACILITIES

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