Feel The Love. How Loved Ones Can Help

Your diabetes doesn’t affect just you. Your family, friends, and loved ones want to know how they can help you manage your diabetes. It’s very helpful if you communicate openly with them about how you are feeling and what they can do to help you.

It might even be a good idea to sit down and discuss it together. Or share this article. TeamingUp wants them to begin to understand how important their help is to you when it comes to successfully managing your diabetes.

Tips for loved ones: Five Important “Do’s”

1Be supportive and comforting.

This is particularly important if your loved one is having a tough time with their diabetes. A little extra kindness and caring can be especially helpful when someone is struggling to keep things positive.
It’s hard for many people to just “be supportive.” Our natural tendency is to want to jump in with both feet and do something constructive to help, such as giving advice about how to deal with thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, this response isn’t the best for your loved one. They may just want you to listen, show you care, or offer a big hug.

2Be extra patient when low blood sugar levels develop.

A person with low blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia, can sometimes behave differently from the person you know and love. Don’t be surprised if they say or do things that are quite out of character. Please understand this behavior is truly something outside of their control, and it’s possible that they won’t remember what happened when the low blood sugar levels have improved. If you notice signs of hypoglycemia, encourage your loved one to check their blood sugar levels. But remember, hypoglycemia can also occur without symptoms.

3Try to help, especially while out in public.

The key here is to help with things that your loved one wants your help with, but not to do it in a pushy or insensitive way. You are trying to help because you love that person. When away from home, checking blood sugar levels, taking insulin, and even eating healthy can be difficult.

4Identify “hot buttons” and work on them.

Certain situations related to diabetes seem to cause irritation. In some families, it might be the spouse without diabetes who eats cookies on a routine basis. Or it might be the person with diabetes who leaves used syringes on the bathroom counter. Every family has issues; get them out in the open so that everybody can deal with them together.

5Remember the importance of that sense of humor.

Figuring out a way to identify something humorous in a tough diabetes-related situation goes a long way to making the problem more manageable. Most people find that if they can laugh about a tough situation, it’s much easier to get through it.

One word of caution: Be sure that it’s clear to your loved one that you’re laughing with them, not at them!

Identifying something humorous in a tough diabetes-related situation goes a long way to making the problem more manageable

Five Important “Don’ts”

1Don’t try to be the boss.

Trying to control another person’s behavior rarely works. If anything, it usually backfires and can cause strain on a relationship. It’s especially frustrating if it involves someone with diabetes not taking care of themselves and the loved one trying to get them to take responsibility for managing their diabetes. Gradually begin to find out if there is something that your loved one wants you to do to help with their diabetes. Find ways that you can help, such as inviting the person to take a walk with you or eliminating junk food from the house. Try to talk to your loved one in a positive, friendly way that will not be interpreted as controlling. Share your feelings and let your loved one know that you feel guilty or frustrated about not being able to do more to help. Ask for suggestions and always keep it positive.

2Don’t ignore your feelings.

It can be tough to make the accommodations a family is expected to make when someone has diabetes. People can be frustrated or even angry when the person with diabetes seems to be “the center of attention.” Changing meal times, canceling plans, or delaying favorite activities are frequent issues. It’s not fair to anyone to ignore your feelings about these situations. First, you can acknowledge that you truly care and are willing to make some changes for the benefit of your family member’s health. Think of it in these terms: Your loved one is every bit as frustrated by having to deal with diabetes as you are, if not more. You’re in this together. You’re not annoyed with each other; you’re annoyed with the way diabetes is affecting your lives.

3Don’t tempt your loved one.

It can be difficult to eliminate junk food from the household. But it really makes life easier for the person with diabetes, not to mention healthier for everyone. Consider trying to follow a healthy eating plan as a family. This kind of approach is especially important when the family member with diabetes is a child. While you can’t keep children from eating certain foods all the time, you can make it easier for them by setting the example in your house.

4Don’t be critical if your loved one gives in to temptation occasionally.

If you see the person with diabetes eating something that is not healthy for them, you may feel frustrated. But don’t make the situation more difficult by starting an argument. Decide beforehand how to handle these types of situations so you can remain calm. If the person usually follows a healthy eating plan, it would be okay to overlook it. You may also want to find ways to be supportive and learn more together about healthy eating, such as joining a support group or taking a diabetes cooking class.

5Don’t discuss your loved one’s diabetes in public without permission.

It might seem perfectly natural for you to mention your loved one’s diabetes to others. However, a comment can be interpreted as criticism, leaving the person with diabetes feeling “different” or picked on. Your loved one may have reasons they don’t want others to know about their diabetes. Out of courtesy, be sure to talk with your loved one before you mention their diabetes to others.

Here’s one last idea for anyone with diabetes or a loved one. Go ahead and make TeamingUp the “bad guy.” Feel free to remind the person who’s not doing a “do” or who’s doing a “don’t” that TeamingUp says that’s not the way to go. Who knows, it just might take the edge off and help the other person hear you.

Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider or nutritionist about a healthy eating plan that is right for you.