Partnering With Type 2 Diabetes Management
Even though we talk a lot about diabetes being a self-managed condition, it is helpful if you have a support system in place. I often refer to managing diabetes as a family affair, in a good way. After all, your diabetes is a lifestyle-managed condition and if you are living with one person (spouse/partner) or many people (kids/parents), most likely, your diabetes management will involve those you live with.
The pillars of diabetes management
The overall recommendations for diabetes management sum up to following a healthy lifestyle and the foundational components such as healthy eating (eating a balanced diet), being physically active (starting with 30 minutes of activity most days of the week), reducing stress (whatever type of stress that you are experiencing), and taking medications as prescribed by your doctor are all great standards of good health management. Managing diabetes is literally a partnership with yourself, but also it’s helpful if you have a little assistance, a partnership with your spouse or partner and other family members.
Spousal support to manage type 2 diabetes
To find out more about how people with type 2 diabetes find support I interviewed several spouses of people who had type 2 diabetes. I was very curious if there would be a difference in their responses, so I questioned two wives and one husband. The diagnosis dates ranged from fifteen years ago to four years ago.
I asked a very broad question – have you experienced significant life changes since your spouse’s diagnosis? The answers were remarkably interesting.
Pay attention to carbohydrate intake
The non-patient husband felt there were not many changes related to his wife’s diabetes except for eating patterns. His wife pays close attention to her carbohydrate intake, and he does most of the cooking. He follows her suggestions for lowering the carbs in their meals. He stated that he has some concern that she is not interested in exercising.
Increased anxiety due to lack of diabetes management
On the other hand, the wife in one of the other partnerships has a lot of anxiety about her husband’s diabetes and diabetes management because of her experience with a family member who had diabetes. She told me that she witnessed her grandfather require a double amputation due to poor management of his diabetes. She feels her husband relies solely on the medications to manage his diabetes without making any lifestyle adjustments. She sees that his doctors change his medications often, trying to find the best medication to manage his blood sugar levels. She commented that the other lifestyle behaviors for diabetes management are left out of the equation by this patient. His diabetes has clearly added stress to her life.
Complete lifestyle change
The third spouse responded totally differently by saying that she and her husband have built a relationship where they are partners in all their activities, so his diagnosis changed her. She stated that she must be more conscientious about what she eats and is grateful for this lifestyle behavior. But she also noticed that if she slips up on her diet, her husband tends to do so as well.
All three spouses in this interview take on a role related to healthy eating. All three assist in monitoring the carbohydrate consumed by assuring there are lower carb options at mealtimes, although one of the husbands is a “picky eater” making it difficult during mealtime to have lower carb options.
Balancing ownership and support
As I thought more about this topic I came to realize that diabetes management starts by partnering with your own body. You check your blood sugar to see how it responds to foods you eat, exercise, stress, and medications. But in this small sample I questioned, all of the partners were playing a supportive role by adapting their lifestyle to their partners’ diabetes.
Do you like to eat grilled cheese sandwiches?