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April 30, 2002

Behavior, Blood Tests and Insulin Injections

Question from Ogden, Utah, USA:

My grandpa was recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and his physician has told him he needs to check his blood sugars three times each, record the results, and bring these results with him to a follow up appointment in a month. However, he is a hard-headed farmer and is reluctant to check his blood sugar. I live with him, and I am encouraging him to check his blood sugars, but he often tells me he’s too busy, or that he’s always out on the farm unable to check them. Do you have any suggestions of approaches I may use to convince or enable my grandpa to check and record his blood sugars?


From: DTeam Staff

I applaud you for trying to help your grandfather. As you well know, if he doesn’t want to do the testing, he will not do it. You can try setting up a reward system, but I think you need to do that with his help. Tell him how important the blood glucose testing is to you, and please ask him if he is okay with doing the monitoring. He may say it hurts or he does not like the blood part or whatever, but then at least you know where he stands. Be sure to validate his answer, so he knows you heard him and understand where he is coming from. For example, if his reason is that it hurts, he might not know of other devices that make the finger sticking much less painful.

Hopefully once you have heard his reasons, you can suggest a compromise that he do it at least some monitoring. If he does do it, you would be willing to something (maybe make a special meal, clean, play a game of cards) he wants.

In spite of all of your efforts, if he just says to leave him alone, I would suggest you speak with his diabetes team so they are aware that he is not testing. If he is on insulin, it is really important that he do so, so they need to be aware of that.

Best wishes and again, I think you deserve a reward for trying so hard to help your grandfather. He may not know it or be able to tell you this, but he is a lucky man.


[Editor’s comment: Farmers frequently have callused skin on their fingertips, making the usual fingersticks difficult. There are devices to check blood sugar from alternative sites (see Blood Glucose Meters for more information.