February 26, 2011

Tips for Family Members of A Diabetic

After laying out the problems many family members cause for other members of the family, it is time to offer some tips for family members that want to be supportive of a loved one with diabetes. Some refer to them as caregivers, but this is not always the case and many people with diabetes just need the positive support of other family members as they are very capable of caring for themselves, but would appreciate the support, especially if it is sincere and positive in nature.

Diabetes for many is a hard disease to manage alone, but is much more manageable with support of a loving family. When you are not the person with diabetes, it can be a herculean task to learn how to be supportive. So what can you do? As a person with Type 2 diabetes, I feel I can offer some valid suggestions.

If you are a spouse, you must have a talk with your husband or wife about what they would appreciate for support. When they say something, listen, listen, and do what they ask.  This may not be done in one session as there is a level of trust beyond marital trust that must be established and from my own experience, this does not happen overnight. It may take weeks, but as the person with diabetes sees that you are learning and sincere in your efforts, this will open up other areas for discussion.

Do not push, let things happen, but be there. Let your partner know this verbally and with feelings, and this is probably the best tip. Together, you can learn about diabetes. If the one with diabetes suggests reading something, do it. This will create common ground for discussion. More areas for discussion can be enhanced by going to the doctors appointments with your partner. If the partner with diabetes does not wish this, be careful, but continue the discussion. If they relent, make sure that you discuss the questions you may have.

This is a tip and a warning. Do not try to manage the others person's diabetes. This can cause more problems than solve problems. It is better to just be there for them. Let them know about your feelings and how their diabetes may affect you.

Some very good ideas include exercising together, choosing healthy foods, offer encouragement, and be supportive and considerate. Exercising together can often give you some time to just be together and have discussions or as some term it “your time”. Being supportive means helping with lifestyle changes and encouraging them at the pace that works for the person with diabetes. Just knowing that you are there and supportive will help make changes easier.

Some people suggest being in a support group together, but I have some reservations about this. This may be the separate time for each of you that allows for them to be themselves. This will depend on how you function as partners and how comfortable it is to be together in every situation. I just advise using caution. It may also depend on the people in the support group.

If there are children, their ages may determine some of the activities and affect the support that is needed. Do not allow children to pull away and not be supportive. For teenagers, this can be very difficult. Adult children will normally go along with whatever is reasonable.

I have kept this for the partners in a marriage or relationship and intend to talk about the older generations in another blog.

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