Support a Relative or Friend
You want the best for family members and friends who have diabetes. However, helping isn't always simple.
You want them to stay healthy, and that means eating right, staying active, taking medication, monitoring blood sugar levels, and and a whole lot more. You may also be interested in participating in our online community, I Love Someone with Diabetes.
Tips for Really Helping a Person Who Has Diabetes
By Richard R. Rubin, PhD, CDE, ADA's Past-President, Health Care & Education
Summertime means family reunions and picnics with loved ones. I've written this column especially for family members and friends of people with diabetes. If you have diabetes and you would like more help and support from someone you are close to, ask that person to read this column. Be sure to point out tips you especially want the person to take to heart.
If you have a loved one who has diabetes here's how you can help. You want the best for family members and friends who have diabetes. You want them to stay healthy, and that means eating right, staying active, taking medication, monitoring blood sugar levels, and a whole lot more. You want to help your loved one do the right thing without nagging. That can be easier said than done, but the tips and list of resources below can make really helping a little easier.
Tip 1: Learn about diabetes.
Diabetes treatment is improving every day. Understanding diabetes and how it is treated makes it easier to help your loved one. Ask your loved one to explain these things to you. Attend a diabetes education class together. These classes are available at many hospitals. Go to the "Find a Recognized Education Program in your area" page, enter your zip code, and you'll be presented with a list.
Tip 2: Understand your loved one's diabetes.
Everybody is different and everybody's diabetes is different. Some people take insulin, others take pills, still others take both, and some people take no diabetes medication at all. People manage their diet, activity, and blood sugar monitoring very differently as well. Some people have diabetes complications, while others do not. And some people feel lots of diabetes-related stress while others don't. Asking your loved one about his or her life with diabetes makes it easier to be truly helpful.
Tip 3: Find out what your loved one really needs.
Try asking the following four questions. Ask your loved one to answer as specifically as possible.
- What is the hardest thing about living with diabetes?
- What do I do that makes it easier for you to manage your diabetes?
- What do I do that makes it harder for you to manage your diabetes?
- What can I do to help that I am not doing now?
Tip 4: Offer the help your loved one asks for.
Take to heart your loved one's answer to the last question in the tip above. Whether it is running to the drug store when your husband runs out of blood glucose monitoring strips, keeping snack foods out of the house to make healthy eating easier for your wife, or offering your friend some encouragement when she is feeling down, do your best to make your loved one's wish come true.
Tip 5: Talk about your feelings.
You don't have diabetes, but anyone who is close to a person who does have diabetes is living with diabetes. The closer you are the more diabetes affects your life. How does your loved one's diabetes affect you? What are your frustrations, fears, and hopes? Talking about these feelings can help clear the air and put you and your loved one on the same side of the fence. That cuts down on nagging and increases cooperation. And that's a good thing.
Tip 6: Get help.
There is lots of help available for people with diabetes and those who love them. Contact ADA for information, answers to frequently asked questions, and tips for making life with diabetes better. Many local hospitals also have diabetes education classes and diabetes support groups.
If your family member or friend seems really sad, encourage your loved one to talk to a health care provider about it. Depression is more common in people with diabetes, and it's a double whammy for them. When people with diabetes are depressed, they not only feel terrible, they usually have more trouble sticking with their diabetes self-care as well. And that means higher blood sugars and more health problems. The good news is this: effective depression treatment -- medication or counseling -- turns things around, helping people feel better and contributing to lower blood sugar levels. So if your loved one might be depressed, do everything you can to get help.
Tip 7: Get started
Now it's time to make a commitment. What are you going to do to make your loved one's life with diabetes a little easier? Use the space below to make your commitment.
What I will do to help my loved one
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