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Carers of diabetics risk mental health problems

Support needed for families, survey finds

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Three quarters of carers for people with diabetes experience emotional or mental health problems, new research shows.

According to the results of an online survey from Diabetes UK, 77% of respondents said 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% per cent 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.

In further insight work, carers of children with type 1 diabetes, told Diabetes UK 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, published to coincide with World Diabetes Day, 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, states the charity. 

Dan Howarth head of Care at Diabetes UK, 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.”

Earlier research published by Diabetes UK 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.

There are 3.7 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK − about 90% are estimated to have type 2 and 10% type 1.

Dan Howarth added: “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.”

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