Growing Old With Diabetes: A Father-Son Story

By GabbyPA Latest Reply 2013-07-17 14:28:46 -0500
Started 2013-07-16 08:22:04 -0500

This was a great bit of information in video form about some tips to help change how we treat as we age. Things I never thought of like reducing the number of insulin shots so you don't forget. It's a neat article…enjoy!

Share your story of how you and your parent or your children share in your diabetes. It is a balance to make it work. As a caregiver or as the one needing care. This is how one father and son do it.

By Everyday Health

By Johannah Sakimura, Everyday Health Staff Writer

John Brogan Sr. successfully controlled his diabetes for three decades. Now 88, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 53 and started on insulin six months later. He kept up with his medication and stayed fit by taking daily three-mile walks around his neighborhood in Medford, Mass.

“For many years he managed,” said his son, John Brogan Jr. “As he got better at it, his life quality went up, and staying active all those years really helped him.”

But as his father grew older, John Jr. noticed he was getting more confused and mixing up his insulin doses or forgetting them altogether. Things really took a turn for the worse when the elder Brogan experienced a bad fall six years ago – he tripped over a curb and hurt his leg and wrist when he landed. The injuries prevented him from going on daily strolls and kept him pent up in his apartment all winter, which affected his mood, according to his son. He lost his appetite and skipped meals, which led to frequent and sometimes serious episodes of low blood sugar.

In the spring of 2009, Brogan Sr. suffered an even greater assault to his health – he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. The tumor was surgically removed and he received twice-daily radiation therapy for more than a month. While the treatment was successful, the intense regimen took a toll and left him feeling even more fatigued and depressed. His son saw that his father’s ability – and willingness – to keep up with his complicated diabetes management plan was waning.

At that point, John Jr. was calling his father constantly, sometimes four times a day, hounding him to take his medication and eat meals, and the continual battle put a strain on their relationship. “I’m the bad guy because I have to deliver the bad news,” he said. “If he veers off track, I have to keep him in line.” The eldest of six Brogan children, he lives about forty-five minutes away from his dad, in Beverly, Mass. and shares caregiving responsibilities with two of his siblings. Retired from a career in automotive sales, he now accompanies his father to most of his medical appointments.

Concerned about his dad’s deteriorating condition, John Jr. sought help from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, where doctors tried a new approach to managing the elder Brogan’s diabetes. Their philosophy when working with older adults: often, less is more.

Treating Elderly Diabetics Requires a Delicate Balance (

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