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Who’s in Your Corner? Critical Areas of Support in Diabetes

When it comes to support in diabetes, you need support in three critical areas:

  1. Medical and technical support
  2. Support for the lifestyle and self-management behaviors
  3. Support for the emotional and psychological side of diabetes

Within these areas, there are many types of supporting people and some people can serve more than one role. Let’s take a look at these:

Medical and technical support for diabetes

Diabetes is a complex condition. That's why there is a whole team behind you to help support your health and diabetes management. When it comes to medical and professional support, consider your entire diabetes care team. It may include many of the following: primary care doctor, endocrinologist, certified diabetes educator, registered nurse, dietitian, case manager, pharmacist, therapist, health coach, personal trainer, podiatrist, etc.

Technical support comes from those who provide helpful tools for carrying out the medical demands of diabetes. It may be useful tips or advice on things like dealing with insurance matters, getting test strips covered, where to find providers in your area, etc. Health professionals are often a good source of technical support, but it can also come from someone with real experience in the matter.

Lifestyle and diabetes self-management behaviors support

There is a whole lifestyle to consider in managing diabetes. Eating right, being active, taking your medications, managing stress, etc. Adopting these lifestyle changes and actually keeping them up can be difficult and support can make it easier.

A big source of this support is someone who participates in things with you. This may be an exercise partner, a helping hand in the kitchen, someone who attends appointments with you, etc. Having someone to do these things with you makes the experience more fun and enjoyable. It also helps with accountability, which is a super boost when you encounter hard times or fall off track.

People who do things for you that help you to follow through on healthy behaviors are sources of tangible or practice support. They do things that make it easier for you to meet your goals. Some examples may include a spouse who takes on household chores to give you time for your walk after dinner. Or it's a grandparent nearby who can sit with the kids while you go to a dance class. It could be your adult child who fills your prescriptions or loads your weekly pillbox, or who sets a reminder on your cell phone to take your medication at the right times.

Emotional and psychological diabetes support

Thinking about these other types of support gives more insight into how much goes into managing diabetes. There are a lot of demands, pressures, and frustrations involved. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes distress “refers to significant negative psychological reactions related to emotional burdens and worries specific to an individual's experience in having to manage a severe, complicated, and demanding chronic disease such as diabetes”.1 And, where taking medications would be considered the physical side of managing diabetes, the psychological side involves the burden of these daily demands and decisions.

So, it is clear that support for managing the emotional and psychological side of diabetes is important as well. This may come in the form of motivational support, someone who pumps you up, boosts your confidence and helps you to gain motivation for tackling diabetes demands. Emotional support can be someone who listens to your challenges but avoids judging your thoughts or behaviors and avoids giving advice. Usually, it's someone who knows you well, they genuinely care about your happiness and wellbeing, they are a good sounding board.

Then there is support in the form of shared experience; this is someone who understands what you are feeling and going through, someone who’s in the same boat as you. This is especially helpful in diabetes. When you’re going through a hard time, hearing that phrase “you are not alone” can go a long way. And simply being reminded of that fact can be really powerful. This is why support groups are so helpful.

As you can see, there are many types of support and individuals who serve many roles in diabetes. When it comes to managing your diabetes, who’s in your corner? Don’t forget about these key areas of diabetes support and don’t hesitate to reach out for some extra help when needed.

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