Caring for a Caregiver with Type 2 Diabetes

Robert was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes when he was 70 years-old, and it totally changed his life. In the beginning, he was very depressed about the diagnosis as he had other chronic health problems, too. However, this would be a game changer for him and his children who helped care for him. In his memory, his children wanted to tell his story to give hope to others in similar situations.

His daughter, Helen, says, “Diabetes is a terrible disease. Dad often had extremely high glucose levels even on medication. He had total neuropathy in his feet. Then to make everything worse, he had a foot wound and had to have weekly skin grafts for three months. Fortunately, it did finally heal. But during that time, is was so difficult for him to be off his feet.  We all pitched in, but Dad simply wouldn’t let go of his duties.”

Throughout these personal trials, he still cared for his wife, Jean, who was terminally ill.  His strong will helped get him through all of this. He truly neglected his own health to care for her. He even endured painful pancreatitis episodes with numerous hospital stays while caregiving.

Helen says, “It was so difficult to watch Dad suffer and never ask for much help. He took such amazing care of Mom, but we knew he was usually in pain himself. We tried to cook healthy meals for both of them, but he still found ways to sneak unhealthy food. Even his gerontologist, who saw him regularly, couldn’t get Robert to take better care of himself.”

Helen and her two siblings made sure that one of them was there daily to check on both parents as they still lived in their apartment. The siblings helped with cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and doctor appointments. But the constant care Robert gave Jean never stopped, even though it was exhausting him.

When Jean died, he lost his will and reason to live, and he passed away nine months later. The siblings were glad that he was no longer suffering and was with the Lord. Caregivers like Robert desperately need our prayers and support. They are true examples of selflessness and faithfulness.

What Helped:

  • The family had a very strong faith.
  • The siblings worked together.
  • Robert’s strong will and persistence.
  • His gerontologist and other doctors.
  • The American Diabetes Association has a wealth of information about the disease.

Scripture Verses

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3  We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 25:10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we pray for the selfless caregivers who endure their own illnesses while caring for others.  You do give us Your constant strength when we are faced with such difficulties. We know that You rejoice in our faithfulness.

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Practicing Gratitude While Caregiving

My devotionals in the morning have really helped me to think about thankfulness during difficult times. I love this passage from Jesus Calling: “Thanking Me for trials will feel awkward and contrived at first. But if you persist, your thankful words, prayed in faith, will eventually make a difference in your heart. Thankfulness awakens you to My Presence, which overshadows all your problems.” 1 

I’ve recently gone back to keeping a gratitude journal, thanks to my sister’s advice. I was starting to feel like this year has brought too much pain and heartache. I began to compare myself with others whose lives seemed easier, but that just made me feel worse. My counselor reminded me that I was comparing my inside to their outsides. It has been a difficult year, but I know so many of you caregivers are facing many of the same issues. And many of you are grieving too.

It’s not easy to practice gratitude, especially when you’re in the trenches with caregiving or grieving the loss of a loved one.  It’s so difficult when there is always one more thing to take care of or one more problem to solve. It can feel overwhelming, endless, and thankless at times. Sometimes it feels like we’re doing it alone, and it can be hard to remember that Jesus is with us each step of the way.

Once again, my mom was the most perfect example of gratitude. She thanked everyone all day long – from my dad to the hospice helpers and those who came to visit. She kissed each person and always thanked them. The more I think about Mom’s gratitude, I thank God for giving me such an amazing role model. She blessed so many people. Thankfully, I can feel her presence as well as my dad’s in my daily life.

I have a little sign on my desk that was given to me by my son when he was five-years old. It simply says, “Keep on praying with a thankful heart.” I look at that sign each day and think about how much wisdom is contained in that simple sentence.  Often, simple reminders can get us back on track when we struggle with gratitude. When we are grateful, it must please Our Lord so very much. So, it should always be our goal.

What Has Helped:

  • My gratitude journal.
  • Focusing on gratitude in my early morning prayer time.
  • My mother’s beautiful example.
  • The book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp.
  • The devotional, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.

Scripture Verses

1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

Prayer

Dear Father, sometimes it feels like You have given us more than we can carry. Help us to remember that You are carrying us during those times. Help us to be grateful for the difficult times as they are often periods of growth. We know it pleases You when we come to You with grateful hearts, and we pray that we can cultivate thankfulness each day.

Click here for the beautiful Footprints in the Sand Prayer.

Beautiful Quotes About Gratitude

“It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich!”  – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“God is in control, and therefore in EVERYTHING I can give thanks – not because of the situation but because of the One who directs and rules over it.” – Kay Arthur

“A sensible thanksgiving for mercies received is a mighty prayer in the Spirit of God. It prevails with Him unspeakably.” – John Bunyan

“In happy moments, PRAISE GOD. In difficult moments, SEEK GOD. In quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD. In painful moments, TRUST GOD. Every moment, THANK GOD.” – Rick Warren

1 Young, Sarah (2004). Jesus Calling. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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