January 27, 2014
Do You Support A Loved One with Diabetes?
Diabetes is a self-managed disease. This is the start of the last paragraph and to me says more than the rest of the blog. Whether you have a supportive family or even supportive friends, you still have to manage diabetes to the best of your ability. They cannot and should not manage your diabetes, unless you are incapacitated or have a form of dementia. Even many adults with type 2 diabetes expect their doctor to manage their diabetes.
When you have diabetes, you have it 24/7 with no vacations. It is not an easy task and it takes a real task manager to stay on top of diabetes. Supporting someone you love is natural, but it can be difficult if he/she shuts you out or won't take charge of his/her diabetes. Finding the right ways to help is a key. You must work with them, but at the same time help them to accept their diabetes and manage it.
Because the chances are you are not knowledgeable about the disease, you will need to learn starting with the basics and carefully manage the terminology. Unless it is your child that has diabetes, you will still want to go to the doctor appointments, if the spouse will allow this. You should be able to ask questions during the doctor visit and because diabetes is different for everyone, knowing about their diabetes will make helping them easier.
For some people, diabetes education classes may be the answer and many hospitals offer them nationwide. Use the search help here. Be concerned if those in charge are more interested in pushing carbohydrates than teaching about diabetes.
Another thing to consider is when dealing with a spouse, assisting them with their diabetes requires more than marital trust. Some couples find this easy and for others this special trust comes slowly and needs to be worked at over time. Nagging can stop this trust and even negate marital trust.
Type 2 diabetes can often be managed with proper nutrition and exercise. By planning to exercise together, you are making it easier for your loved one to work toward a healthier lifestyle. If you are the cook in the family, learn what is necessary for healthy nutrition and start cooking accordingly. This may require some education on your part and learn how to count carbohydrates.
One of the most important aspects that a spouse needs to learn is the symptoms that can happen with diabetes. If your spouse, or child, is on insulin or a sulfonylurea or The DPP-4 inhibitors, they may be at risk for hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). I can only urge you to know the symptoms of a hypoglycemic attack and what to do if it happens.
This Joslin blog has other suggestions and I suggest following the links for additional information. A review of a few of my prior blogs may also be of help.
Yes, every family is different and needs thought in the method used to discuss a diagnosis with them. This blog discusses a study and what the people with diabetes feels his or her family thinks about their diabetes. This blog covers some useful tips for the person with diabetes and how to manage some situations. The final blog I offer is about some of the reasons loving family members can be the worst at assisting good diabetes management.