Seven Ways to Support Your Loved One With Diabetes
If you live with or are close to someone who has diabetes, you face some unique challenges. Are you doing enough to support them? Could you be doing too little? And how do you help a loved one that isnt yet interested in helping themselves? Theres a fine line between nurturing and nagging, and its easy to cross when the stakes are so high. Whether its your child, spouse, boyfriend, best friend, or brother living with diabetes, there are ways you can help them manage their control without straining your relationship.
- Participate. Find out all there is to know about diabetes and your loved ones specific health needs. Tag along to diabetes education classes and diabetes-related appointments. If youre responsible for the food shopping or the cooking in your household, its essential you meet with the registered dietitian your loved one sees as well.
- Communicate. A diabetes diagnosis can be a hard adjustment for both of you to make. Ask your loved one how you can help and support them in their diabetes care, and encourage them to be open with their needs. Try not to be judgmental, and if they tell you they dont want assistance, let them know the door is open if and when theyre ready.
Learn more about coping with diabetes.
- Arrest the food police. Dont overanalyze every bite that passes your loved ones lips. Adults need and deserve eminent domain over their own diet. And while very young children will require your guidance for good control, older children and teens should also be given the autonomy to make food choices. What you can do is ensure that there are plenty of healthy and appropriate selections on hand to choose from.
Learn about diet and diabetes.
- Support, but dont enable. At the other extreme, dont make it easy for your loved one to lose control over their diabetes management by stocking the junk food supply they asked for, agreeing to let them skip their blood sugar testing, or by making excuses for their lack of interest in their own care. Let them know that youre there for them, but you wont assist them in sabotaging their health.
- Be good to yourself. You cant take care of someone else unless you take care of your own basic needs first. Get your sleep, eat right, and take time out to decompress. If youre a parent of a child with diabetes, have a backup caregiver or babysitter for your child that is competent in diabetes care. You may even consider bringing in a CDE to train them if it will ease your anxiety level.
- Dont believe everything you hear. Take all advice with a healthy fistful of salt. What worked for your third cousins neighbor wont necessarily work for your loved one. And there are plenty of misconceptions and outdated theories about diabetes that continue to be spread, such as sugar being completely off limits. When in doubt, ask a doctor or diabetes educator.
- Walk the walk. Exercise with your spouse. Eat healthy meals with your child. The lifestyle changes your loved one needs to control their diabetes are good for everyone, and your participation will benefit both of you. If the person with diabetes in your life is noncompliant, your example may inspire them.
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At Charlie’s lacrosse game on Saturday … “Is he going to test at halftime?” Susanne asked. “No,” I said. “He won’t.” “He’ll … forget,” I said, using air quotes around the word forget. Squinting across the lacrosse field with our mediocre-at-best middle-age vision, we watched as Charlie removed his helmet from his sweaty head and plopped down on the ground. ...