Tips on Raising a Child With Diabetes
Diabetes educator and author Jean Betschart Roemer, MN, MSN, CRNP, CDE, says that new technologies and busier lifestyles have changed the way people, including children, manage their diabetes. Yet Roemer says certain guidelines for parents raising kids with diabetes have stood the test of time.
In the new third edition of her book, Guide to Raising a Child with Diabetes, published by the American Diabetes Association, Roemer reflects recent changes in diabetes care: She has expanded sections that cover continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps, weight control, type 2 diabetes among youngsters, and a child's perspective and feelings. But her basic goal remains the same: giving parents the information and reassurance they need to help their children live healthy, active lives. "It's a learning curve, and not everyone understands it well [in the beginning]," she says.
The book, whose first edition came out in 1995, explores everything from pancreatic beta cells and blood glucose testing to meal planning and what to expect as your child gets older. Roemer provides step-by-step instructions for insulin injections, covers how to manage sick days (when insulin needs may differ), and offers tips for traveling with a child who has diabetes.
But her book is not a one-size-fits-all primer. Roemer notes that each child is different, so parents must adopt a problem-solving approach to diabetes management. When parents understand how diabetes works in their child, she says, they are more confident and adept at dealing with challenges as they arise.
Roemer offers three fundamental tips for parents:
• Be forgiving of yourself.
• Try to be positive in dealing with your child.
• Stay involved in your child's care, even when he or she is able to manage diabetes alone.
"As they get older," she says, "try to find a balance between allowing your child to be an individual and staying in a supervisory role." Kids who get that kind of care, she says, generally do better.
The author holds up celebrities like actress Halle Berry, musician Nick Jonas, and Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler as examples of how, with proper management, children with diabetes can grow up to lead fulfilling lives.
Roemer herself is a fine example: A pediatric nurse practitioner and diabetes educator at the Children's Hospital of UPMC in Pittsburgh, she is a past president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and a recipient of ADA's Outstanding Health Professional Educator award. And Roemer has lived with diabetes for more than four decades; she was diagnosed with type 1 in 1968.
For more information on ADA books, click here.