Topics in Type 1 DiabeTes
Grandparents: no Greater Reward
“When people ask me to go back to those first days and recall what
would have made them easier and more bearable, my answer would
be simple: a loved one, preferably a mother, who cared about me and
my child,” says JDRF volunteer, Moira McCarthy Stanford, whose
daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 6. “My
husband and I basically had to do it on our own. I cannot tell you
the power of having someone who really cares.”
It’s often been said that it’s not just a child who gets diabetes.
Diabetes is a “whole family” diagnosis, and grandparents can be an
extremely important part of the mix. Whether they live nearby or
some distance away, grandparents must deal with the same emo-
tions and adjustments as the rest of the family, and then determine
how they can best support their loved ones. That support can take
many directions, from stepping in to giving their children some well
deserved “time off,” to offering emotional support and understand-
ing, to volunteering their time and energy to the fight for a cure.
JDRF’s Online Diabetes Support Team, made up of volunteers from
around the country, includes several grandparents of children with
diabetes, and they all speak passionately about both the challenges
and rewards of becoming integral members of the family team.
Sharon Koets, whose first granddaughter, Mazzy, was diagnosed
at 20 months, remembers being shocked and overwhelmed in the
beginning. But she and her husband felt they had no choice but to
become experts in diabetes care. “We so wanted to do all the things
we had always dreamed of doing with our grandchildren, yet we
were fearful of taking on the responsibilities, and even wondered
whether ‘quality grandparent time’ was possible at all,” she says.
“We decided right at the beginning that we had to learn as much
about diabetes as we could. We had no choice if we wanted be part
of Mazzy’s life.” The couple also wanted to give Mazzy’s parents as
much relief as