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5 Helpful Questions for Diabetes Caregivers

It took a long time for me to know exactly what type of assistance I wanted with diabetes from my husband, family, and friends after my diagnosis. I gained understanding about what I needed after enduring awkward and emotionally painful encounters with “food pushers” and the “food police.” I discovered that I hate being asked about what I am eating after someone attempted to scold me at a party by asking, “Are you supposed to eat that?” Over the years, I’ve noticed that members of the “food police” aren’t ever as eager to ask about my emotional wellbeing as they are about checking to see how much dessert I consume.

5 tips for type 2 diabetes caregivers

In hopes of helping our friends and family members demonstrate more care alongside their concerns for us, I created a list of five questions that can be helpful to caregivers who want to be more sensitive.

1. “How would you describe your diabetes management this week in one word?”

This question provides an opportunity for reflection. It's easy for me to get stuck in the present and forget the larger picture. If I ate both grits and a biscuit for breakfast today, I might experience feelings of regret two hours later when I check my blood sugar. If I'm asked about diabetes during the emotional valley, I can feel annoyed. However, asking about my entire week could help me put things into perspective.

2. “Would you like it if I attended your next doctor’s appointment?”

If your loved one is like me, then they might have some level of stress around doctor’s appointments. It’s easy to lose focus when you’re holding your breath waiting for your A1C results, fearing the moment when you have to step on the scale, or wondering if you’ll be judged by your healthcare providers. It could help to have someone else there for emotional support.

3. “How can I help you reach your diabetes goals this month?”

This approach shows that you are not only interested in the wellbeing of your loved one, but you’re willing to offer support with their diabetes management. If your loved one doesn’t have a plan, then use this as an opportunity to make a plan and commit to joining them for one of the goals.

4. “Is there anything you need right now to be more successful in managing diabetes?”

It is important to know if your loved one has all of their supplies. There were times when I couldn’t afford test strips and I didn’t tell anyone. My inability to afford test strips meant that I couldn’t manage diabetes successfully during those times. Perhaps if someone knew, they would have assisted me. Maybe your loved one hasn’t seen a registered dietitian in a while and that appointment could help them feel more empowered to make better food choices.

5. “How are you feeling emotionally right now about diabetes management?”

I believe this to be the most important question that any caregiver could ask. Managing diabetes is hard and exhausting. The daily management of diabetes can be overwhelming and lead to diabetes burnout. Displaying your concern for your loved one’s wellbeing can go a long way with helping them manage diabetes with confidence.

I hope these five questions will help to improve your relationship with your loved one.

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