Poll Finds Many Diabetes Caregivers Exhausted, Lacking Support

Poll Finds Many Diabetes Caregivers Exhausted, Lacking Support

TUESDAY, July 5, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Diane Kondyra knows a lot about the hidden dangers of diabetes.

Both she and her husband have been diagnosed with the blood sugar disease, and her husband suffered one of its devastating complications in 2018 when he developed a staph infection that cost him part of his leg. Uncontrolled diabetes can restrict blood flow to the legs, making it more likely that simple cuts can turn into life-threatening wounds.

"I have firsthand experience to know, like anything, you always have to take care of your body ... because if you don't, things like this can happen," the 63-year-old said during a HealthDay Now interview.

The whole event was highly traumatic and stressful for Kondyra's family, but it also served as a wake-up call.

"The health problems that my husband has incurred, I don't want to have myself incur," Kondyra said. "I think it's woken us up to take better care of ourselves, to make sure that there are no injuries in the legs and the arms and there are no cuts that go undetected."

Kondyra is not alone in her struggle to manage the chronic condition.

Learning to live with type 2 diabetes can be a significant adjustment, as patients are often confronted with a steep learning curve and sweeping lifestyle changes. In some cases, the effects can reverberate beyond the individual patient and put a strain on their family and friends.

Diabetes is staggeringly common in the United States, affecting about 10% of the population, or 1 in 10 individuals. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, type 2 diabetes makes up more than 90% of these cases.

Considering its prevalence, most Americans now know or love someone with type 2 diabetes. That's borne out in a new survey conducted by the Harris Poll in partnership with HealthDay revealing the direct impacts of the disease on families and social support networks.

Providing care to a diabetes patient is no insignificant task -- caregivers play a crucial role in helping patients control their condition and prevent future complications. In the survey that questioned more than 2,000 American adults from June 9-13, more than 1 in 3 people identified as caregivers, meaning they live with or care for a child or adult with type 2 diabetes.

According to the CDC, the quality of diabetes patients' support networks is one of the best predictors of how well they'll manage their condition.

Diabetes management can be a serious undertaking for patients and their families, from the daily medications and frequent blood sugar checks to the dietary changes and health care bills. Almost 80% of Americans surveyed in the Harris poll said the entire household is affected by a family member with diabetes, while 60% of diabetes caregivers said their loved one's disease impacts all facets of their life.

Since 2018, Kondyra has made a series of life changes, including losing weight and using a new patch system to monitor her blood sugar, and her levels recently hit an all-time low. According to the Harris poll, these types of changes are common among people whose family members have diabetes -- of caregivers surveyed, 77% said their loved one's battle with diabetes inspired them to make positive lifestyle changes, such as eating better or being more active.

You can watch the full HealthDay Now interview below:

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