Adult child (21) will not take care of Type 1 diabetes

This evening my 21 year old son was taken to the ER by ambulance. This will be his 8th time in the hospital with ketoacidosis. Two of those times he was on life support. He refuses to take proper care of himself. He never tests his blood sugar, does not eat the right foods and drinks as much pop/soda as he can get his hands on ( I swear I think the pop is an addiction) . He cares about nothing. He has lived with me multiple times while I tried to help him get his life together , such as getting a job. Never happens always an excuse why he cant get one or find one. He finally did get into job Corp. I was so excited, but he has since been let go from Job Corp because they were constantly having to take him to the er because he was not taking care of his diabetes. He’s killing his self. I had to put me foot down and tell him he was not allowed to come back to live with me . He went to live with grandmother, who is the one who just had to call the ambulance.

His grandmother is now not allowing him to come back to live with her because he will not take care of his diabetes and is still full of excuses why he can not get a job.
Side note my son has a 1 1/2 year old little girl that lives with her mother and I help take care of. My son is killing himself and I feel there is nothing else I can do. I have had him admitted to a mental hospital but he told them what they wanted to hear and was out in two weeks.

Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

Hi, Melissa @Walke29,

During my many years of practice (as a neuropsychologist) I would sometimes encounter situations like you have described. I don’t know you or your son, so I can’t make comments specific to his/your situation. But I will offer this - there are some situations that are just to difficult for family members to have any impact. This is often the case with people who are addicted to alcohol and/or drugs, people who have gambling problems, as well as people who simply will not take care of a chronic illness.

Then what do family members do? The best they can do is to “insulate” themselves from the negative effects of the chronically-ill person’s behavior. Family members are better off if they continue to insist that the affected person work with her/his treatment team and then limit their contact with the affected person. Let the treatment team “own the battle.”

If the affected person is ever able to turn things around, then the family can cautiously “re-engage” with the person. But until that day comes (if it does) the family members are better off to “insulate” themselves from the “chaos.”

I feel certain you have heard this before. Sorry I don’t have anything better to offer.

Good luck!


I greatly appreciate your response. To an extent, yes I’ve heard this before, but I appreciate your detail. I just need to know that I’ve left no stone unturned, so to speak. The hardest thing I’ve ever done is to watch my child as he slowly kills himself. In a sense I guess I’m trying to prepare myself as I pray everyday that God can help him turn it all around. Thanks again.

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hi @Walke29 Melissa, if it is any consolation at all. I ignored and did the minimum possible with diabetes for 20 years, until I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I put family and friends through very bad times. It wasn’t anything that anyone did or said that made me change, it was my own acceptance. 20 years worth of “killing myself” didn’t actually kill me.

please take care of yourself and your self-esteem in these difficult times. Your son is an adult; you didn’t cause this, you can’t cure it, and you can’t control it in him.

Than you so much for your response. I’m happy you were finally able to things around. It’s been very hard for me to step back and to stop making sure his dr appointments are made , making sure he doesn’t run out of insulin…etc. Not allowing him to live with me has been difficult because He has run out of places to live. Bouncing from one house to another and now no place to go when he leaves the hospital. We are trying to get a social worker involved before he leaves the hospital in hopes they can offer suggestions for living arrangements among other things. I will continue to keep health insurance on him so he can get his insulin & go to his doctor appointments. Past that I’ve realized I can’t keep going through the heart ache. I’m stepping back and he will now have to be responsible for his life. I pray his mind set changes and he will make the decision to care. Thank you for your story and insight, it means a lot.

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Hi Melissa @Walke29, I know you are going through a rough time with worries, but as two very aware and knowledgeable gentle men have said that the decision is with your son. As a parent and grandparent I’ve gone out of my way to “be there” and assist and 55 or so years ago I completely disregarded my diabetes until something happened and I snapped out of it. Yes, I always took an injection of crude insulin every morning just because I felt very crappy on the few days I missed, but I went several years without seeing a doctor and never had a blood sugar test - in those days BS testing was done only in hospital labs. Yes, the light went on in my head and for the last 50 years I cared!

As for your son not having a place to live, suggest that he could return to your home as long as he followed “the rules” - first failure on his part he gets thrown out. “The Rules”, your rules and the doctor’s orders PLUS he must read, study and learn.

Thank you so much for your response. Sadly, that was the deal I made with my son the last two times he’s moved in with me. Also, the same deal his grandmother made with him when he moved in with her 2 weeks ago. He was there one week before she had to call an ambulance. Unfortunately he tells you what you want to hear to let him back in and then continues this destructive behavior. He has agreed to talk with a psychiatrist while he’s in the hospital, I hope speaking with a psychiatrist is something he will continue to do.

I am sharing my exsperience because the feeling of no hope did me in. I would do everything the Dr would give me for about 3 weeks then realize this isn’t doing what they said it will do. I always had unexplained high and lows even on stricked diets in the hospital. I was one that didn’t sit still I was always on the move. The problem was I couldn’t predick if my bg would go high or low. I tried diets I tried different meds. They finally came out with lantus and that changed my whole life. So I they put me on lantus and novolog. And I could get my a1c down to a 9 if I gave up my life and sat around and did hardly anything. I went from monthly ER visits to going about once a year. Until I finally stopped having them except when I was sick. About 5 years ago I started having heart attacks and strokes.
behavior change similar to being drunk
blurred vision
cold sweats
difficulty with thinking
dizziness or lightheadedness
excessive hunger
fast heartbeat
irritability or abnormal behavior
restless sleep
slurred speech
tingling in the hands, feet, lips, or tongue
dryness of the mouth
fast or weak pulse
increased thirst
irregular heartbeat
loss of appetite
mood or mental changes
muscle cramps or pain
skin rash or itching over the whole body
trouble breathing
unusual tiredness or weakness
The Dr just blamed it on my non control of diabetes. I have been taking novolog for 20 years and I would of never noticed the side effects if it wasn’t for my family telling me how I was acting. I had to do the research and figure it on my own. Since I have got off novolog I only have a hand full of those symptoms and my bg is way more tighter I am currently on humilin R threw 670g insulin pump.maybe my story will give your son the hope he might need.