Tips on Supporting Family Members
Family, the only people in this world we should expect to have our back and support us through anything. This becomes even more important once diagnosed with a chronic condition like type 2 diabetes. However, there is no promise your family will know how to support you the right way.
How to support family living with type 2 diabetes
As a family member, to someone with type 2 diabetes, you do not want to become an enabler. Support is often met with lots of tough love and difficult decisions or conversations. It’s ok if these feel awkward or give you a little anxiety. You are doing the right thing. Just don’t let these decisions or conversations become a source of negativity that puts a damper on your relationship. Ultimately, the person with diabetes has to choose for themselves if they want to lead the same lifestyle or work on improvement.
Don't be an enabler
An enabler is a person that allows a loved one to continue with bad behavior without resistance or provides the means to continue living an unhealthy lifestyle. If this sounds like you, it’s ok. I don’t think many people realize they are or how to stop enabling. The first thing you need to do is educate yourself on diabetes. Learn about treatments, medication schedules, dietary guidelines, and suggestions, and anything else you can find on the topic. This will be the first step in changing your behavior and helping your loved one.
Be supportive of a healthy diet and lifestyle
Making sure you support your loved one with a healthy diet and lifestyle is one of the best ways you can support them. This can be difficult for many people to change, but as their support person, you must encourage and help them through this transition. One way to help is to live the lifestyle with them. Not only will they see you are serious, but you will also be working on improving yourself as well. Diet and exercise are very important ways to control diabetes and help keep diabetes complications away.
Make it difficult to eat junk food
Like I said, sometimes people don’t want to or aren’t ready for all the changes they need to make. If they are not, you may want to make it more difficult for them to continue their lifestyle. An example is some people snack on bad foods. If you are the primary grocery shopper, don’t buy those snack foods anymore. Make it so if they want them, they have to go get them. If you are going to do this, make sure you have healthier snack options available so that hopefully convenience will win over the need for junk food. This one has the potential to cause conflict, and depending on personalities could end not well. You know your loved one best, and what battles to pick and which ones to leave alone. If you choose to try this, do it in a supportive way and try to ease the transition. Junk food can be very addictive to someone and it’s not always easy to quit cold turkey.
Hopefully, these ideas on how to support a loved one with diabetes helped. Of course, there are a lot more, but these are a few of the ones you can start now and will have a big impact. The biggest thing to remember is you are trying to support them with diabetes management and transition them to a healthier lifestyle. Do so in a manner and speed that compliments the person you are trying to help.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your diabetes?