3 Ways to Empower Family Members Living with Diabetes


When my dad was diagnosed with diabetes over 12 years ago, there was a constant worry and fear of the unknown at home. Would he be able to manage his diet and glucose levels to ensure his diabetes was in check? Would there be complications given some of his family members had diabetes and heart disease? He was not the best at discipline when it came to diet and keeping track of his daily intakes so how closely would we have to monitor, who would do that given I was married and living away from home and my mom was on her own with him. The constant finger pricks became a daily ritual—not one of my kids understood in the beginning. All of these took the form of daily anxiety with a diagnosis that isn’t new to South Asians but is always different for each person and family.

Diabetes demands day-to-day knowledge of nutrition, exercise and constant glucose monitoring. Today we have Fitbit and heart monitoring on our phones for exercise and technology is now giving back some families control over their ability to manage diabetes too.

As someone who has seen diabetes take its toll on the family, feeling like you can empower a family member to take control back can make all the difference.

Managing chronic conditions like diabetes doesn’t just impact the person with the disease. Often, immediate family members, friends and caregivers provide ongoing support, and the stress of managing a chronic condition can have a negative impact on those relationships.

So how can we empower our parents and other family members living with diabetes to better manage their health?

Here are 3 ways to start:

  1. Find resources about living with diabetes. It’s a way to empower and alleviate fears of the unknown. Whether you attend doctor’s appointments or not, ensure they know to ask about resources available to them through their physician’s office and help encourage them to ask the questions. Get to know the basics about diabetes together. Work together to make meal plans simple and easy to implement. Diabetes.ca has some tips on diet and recipes that can be a great start.
  2. Find ways to make glucose monitoring simple. Glucose monitoring is essential for people living with diabetes. Knowing your glucose levels helps guide the balancing act of maintaining normal glucose levels through diet, physical activity and treatment.  For those of us that travel with grandparents with diabetes or want to celebrate those cultural milestones with grandkids and their grandparents, an easy and safe way of keeping track is key.

Technology like  Abbott ’s  Freestyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system, is eliminating the need for finger pricks1  and is now being used globally by more than 1.5 million2 people living with diabetes. The small hand-held device uses flash glucose technology to automatically read sugar levels through a sensor that is worn on the back of the upper arm for up to two weeks, day and night. The device is also water-resistant and can be worn while swimming, showering, or while working out3. An easy-to-use app allows you to seamlessly connect your device to your iPhone4  that will capture and store glucose level data. So even if you’re travelling or doing daily routines with kids or grandkids, the technology can help you share data with your doctor and keep track of highs and lows to adjust lifestyle or treatment and let you have the data at your fingertips without the pricks! It also allows family members and caregivers to track your glucose for piece of mind.

I’m also excited to share that now even more Ontario residents can access the life-changing technology of the FreeStyle Libre system, as it is now covered by Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB). To find out how you may qualify for coverage through ODB, please speak with your prescribing physician or local pharmacy.

3. Have healthy conversations about diet and South Asian lifestyle and foods. Early on for

elders, there may be a fear of ‘what will people say’ and self-inflicted stigma may make it difficult to break habits. But working together as a family to have everyone eat the same foods and exercise to build healthier conversations can make all the difference.

For more information on innovation for living with diabetes visit: https://myfreestyle.ca/en/

Disclaimer – This post is sponsored in partnership with Abbott Diabetes Canada, however, as always, all opinions are my own.


1  A finger prick test using a blood glucose meter is required during times of rapidly changing glucose levels when interstitial fluid glucose levels may not accurately reflect blood glucose levels or if hypoglycaemia or impending hypoglycaemia is reported by the System or when symptoms do not match the System readings.

2  Survey conducted on 04/25/2018 to CARP members. The survey was paid for by Abbott Diabetes Care, a manufacturer of diabetes care products in Canada.

3  Sensor is water-resistant in up to 1 metre (3 feet) of water. Do not immerse longer than 30 minutes

The FreeStyle LibreLink app is compatible with iPhone 7 and later running OS 11 and later.


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