We just learned that our grandchild was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 10. What should we know if the child is in our care for a visit?
It is very common and understandable that grandparents will be scared to care for a grandchild with diabetes. The grandparent - grandchild relationship is very special and it is important to try not to let the diagnosis of diabetes interfere with this relationship.
I think the key to conquering fear is education. You should ask your children to give you information about the day to day management of diabetes that they find is helpful in caring for their child. Information given to teachers is often very helpful.
I would suggest you first focus on learning your grandchild's meal plan. Focus on the foods your grandchild enjoys eating in your house and learn the amounts that can fit into his/her diet. Discuss with your children what to do if your grandchild refuses to eat. Learn the symptoms of low blood sugar and focus on the symptoms your own grandchild has, how to prevent and treat them.
If you want to care for your grandchild without his/her parents present, start first with a short time (the parents will probably appreciate even a few hours to go out alone.) At first, see if the child's doctor will agree to skip a blood sugar before a meal. Don't start with a time when the child will need insulin.
If you plan to have the child visit for a longer time without his/her parents, you will have to learn how to test the blood sugar and give insulin. You may want to see if you can sign up for a diabetes education course where you live first. There are aids like the inject ease and autoinjector that make giving an injection easier and less scary.
Remember, even if your grandchild cries or complains, you must communicate that you are making him do these things because you love him, don't want him to get sick, and still want him to visit you even with the diabetes. Most children will appreciate in the long run that you still love them and want them to visit even though it is more difficult with the diabetes.
If you are going to test the blood sugar and give shots, I suggest you first practice several times with the parents present before you do it yourself. If you are nervous, you may have a friend who is a nurse or doctor, or even the parent of a child with diabetes locally who could be on standby to help you if there is a problem.
Make sure you have the name of the child's diabetes doctor and know how to page him/her after hours. Don't be afraid to call for advice if you need it. You can always offer to reimburse the physician if it is a long distance call. If you live far away from the child's home, you might want to have the name of a local pediatrician who could see the child if he/she develops a fever of virus while visiting you. It is probably still easier, if possible, for either you or the local pediatrician to discuss any issues related to diabetes management with the child's personal diabetes doctor who knows the child better (if a child with diabetes develops a fever or vomiting, you may need to make changes in the insulin while the child is sick.)
You may want to log on to the CWD Forums section for grandparents and get ideas from other grandparents.
Take your time learning how to cope with the diabetes. In the long run, you may even develop a stronger relationship with your grandchild!
Original posting 16 Mar 97
Updated January 16, 2006
Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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