Supporting a Loved One With Diabetes
Whether you care for a parent, spouse, or child, supporting someone with diabetes has its challenges. From learning the diet restrictions and new medications, to providing emotional support, the needs are ongoing.
Supporting someone with type 2 diabetes:
Here are a few tips when giving support to someone with diabetes.
If you do not already know about diabetes and how to care for it, get informed. There are many books in the local bookstore or library that can help you to better understand the process of diabetes, the risks, and the treatment. The more information you have, the easier it will be to support your family member. Ask them if they feel comfortable with you attending their doctor appointments. If so, you can also ask the physician any questions you may have regarding their diet, medication and other lifestyle modifications. You can also check out Type2Diabetes.com for articles referencing carbohydrate counting, recipe ideas and more!
Try not to nag
This can be easier said than done, but when speaking to a family member about how to care for their diabetes, try not to nag. Most likely the person with diabetes is well aware of their diet restrictions and the expectations from their doctor. As the family member or caretaker, try to use gentle reminders when necessary. If the person with diabetes feels like they are being told what to do all of the time, they may feel irritated and unable to control their own lives.
Lead by example
If you are constantly telling your loved one that they “can’t eat that” and then proceed to eat said food in front of them, that is unfair. It is generally recommended that when someone in the family needs to make big lifestyle changes, the whole family get on board. Keep “off-limit” foods out of the house, the way you would if someone had a food allergy. Do not make separate meals for the person with diabetes, but instead choose foods that are diabetes-friendly that everyone can enjoy. It may seem difficult to change your own habits when you aren’t the one with diabetes, but you will have times outside of your home or job when you can indulge in your favorites without affecting someone else.
Meet them where they are right now
Many people diagnosed with diabetes go through a denial period. This time may last longer for some than for others. During this denial period, they may ignore the doctor's recommendations, continuing to choose foods that are unhealthy or portions that are in excess of what they need. Even though you may be 100% on board to help them make this change, at the end of the day it is their body and until they are ready, it will be impossible for you to control. Try to be as supportive as you can during this time by offering healthy meal and snack options or encouraging daily walks together.
What tips do you have for caring for loved ones with diabetes? Or, if you are the one with diabetes, what do you wish your friends and family members would know or do when helping you?
Do you have a family history of diabetes?