The Impact of Diabetes on Families



A message for World Diabetes Day from Dr. Shannon McDonald, FNHA Deputy Chief Medical Officer

Today, November 14, is World Diabetes Day, so I'd like to take the opportunity to talk about diabetes and its impact on families, including my own.

I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1996, and through the years I have worked to keep my blood sugars in balance. I have used diet changes, exercise, and self-care. I have been on several different medications over the years – some worked well, others did not. For the past few years, I have been taking insulin. But I am well, and focused on staying that way! My husband has had higher blood sugars in the last couple of years too, so we have become even more careful with our diet and activity levels. We still struggle to maintain a healthy weight, but we partner with our health care providers to be as healthy as possible, and to set a good example to our children and grandchildren.

Diabetes is an important disease to talk about because it continues to impact the lives of Indigenous families at high rates. In fact, there is a very strong possibility that you or someone you love is dealing with this disease. Most parents would have trouble spotting this serious life-long condition in their own children, a 2018 research study by the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) found.

Given this, I urge all families to learn all they can about diabetes, including finding out their own risk of type 2 diabetes and understanding the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and education of diabetes. Read our updated resource on diabetes and managing diabetes to get started and take the IDF's online quiz to see how much you already know / still need to learn.

While there isn't yet a cure for diabetes, there are many things you can do to prevent and manage its impact on your life. These include: eating a healthy diet, reducing added sugar, being physically active, taking medicines if prescribed, maintaining a healthy weight and BMI, increasing fiber in your diet, getting regular screening, and keeping health care appointments to stay on track. It's a balancing act, to be sure, but you and your family's health is worth it. Please consider being proactive and incorporating these healthy habits into your life.

In Wellness,

Dr. Shannon McDonald

Deputy Chief Medical Officer

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