Given the magnitude of the problem, it’s a shame they only devote a single month of awareness to diabetes. (If you weren’t aware—in spite of efforts to raise awareness—November was Diabetes Awareness Month.)
See, this particular disease affects almost one out of every ten Americans.
That’s already bad, but it’s even worse when we lump in the additional 84 million who are prediabetic and at risk for developing a full-blown case of type 2 diabetes within five years.
Hopefully that doesn’t come to fruition, but it means more than one out of every four Americans could be diabetic by the end of 2023—and that number is actually dangerously close to one out of three!
Yeah, this is a very significant problem.
Why diabetes is so problematic for the human body
We talked about this in other articles but it’s worth providing a quick summary for a simple reason—to provide a good quality of life in the “golden years” and may even save your loved one’s life. (And, yes, we’re still focusing on feet as we talk about a life-threatening issue.)
So here’s the CliffsNotes version:
Diabetes causes systemic damage in the human body with a triple attack. It impairs blood flow, damages nerves, and keeps the immune system from doing what it’s supposed to do—heal wounds and fight off infection.
Nerve damage from diabetes means wounds and other issues never set off your warning system and thereby remain undetected and untreated Impaired circulation keeps an open wound or infected area from receiving adequate blood supply.
Of course, even if enough blood was flowing, the immune system is compromised and unable to properly do its thing.
An acute injury, chronic and respective irritation, or foot deformity can damage the skin to the point of ulceration. When there is a complete loss of blood flow gangrene may develop with a high risk for sepsis—which is life-threatening. In fact, the 5 year mortality rate for diabetic foot ulcers is worse than breast, colon, and prostate cancer.
To say the complications from diabetes is “bad news’ would be an understatement.
Before we move further along, it’s worth noting that our focus is with as the problems it causes—specifically, neuropathy (nerve damage) and restricted circulation. There are plenty of other problems that can produce the same effects (such as chemotherapy, nutritional deficiencies, and lower back injuries for example).
Alright, we’ve established diabetes is an issue that is both common and dangerous. Now it’s time to get to the heart (and this is affected too) of the matter:
Caring for a diabetic family member
Since you have invested the time to reading this blog, it is evident that you are concerned with the health of someone close to you .
The truth of the matter is that you might be only one in your family who is focused on health concerns. And—fair or not—it may be your responsibility to care for a diabetic family member.
We want you to:
- Understand the importance of what you’re doing for your loved one(s)
- Have the right tools and resources
Why is it so important to assist loved ones who have diabetes?
The diminished vascular supply isn’t just for the lower limbs. In fact, this is a major contributing factor for the elevated risk of blindness that accompanies diabetes.
Since your family member likely has impaired vision, you then become his or her eyes. But what about the staff if your parent, grandparent, uncle or aunt, etc. has been receiving professional care or is in a facility? If you’ve found issues in other areas of the body, it’s a pretty safe bet the feet have definitely been neglected.
Feet do tend to be the “low man on the totem pole”—which does apply from an anatomical perspective, but we mean it in a most decidedly figurative manner. No matter if there has been professional care or not, you should understand this: It is absolutely essential to catch things before they become a serious problem.
From a health context, we are talking about “ticking timebombs” when it comes to diabetic foot ulcers! And if that’s not enough, it’s probably worth considering that, , finding problems early will save you lots of time and money.
It is virtually impossible to attach a monetary value to the time, but we can reasonably quantify the possible financial impact as such—a diabetic issue found at a late stage that has become an emergency will cost thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. (We’re pretty sure there are better ways of spending money to prevent problems.)