Network Support: 7 Ways Friends and Family Can Help with Diabetes Management
The thing about chronic conditions like Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is that their long-term nature often induces depressive mood swings and a sort of defiance in those diagnosed with them. As a result, managing a chronic condition is often a group effort that requires the continued support and understanding of those around the patient. Here are 7 ways that friends and family can help with diabetes management alongside their loved ones:
1. Stop Policing
Most adults diagnosed with the condition have a fair idea of how to self-manage, and constant nagging and restrictions only breeds non-compliance, which opens the doors for numerous life-threatening complications; the very thing that you were trying to avoid in the first place. So, instead of nagging them about what they should and shouldn’t eat, among other things, present well-reasoned, polite arguments, and gently steer them towards a diabetes-optimized lifestyle.
2. The Buddy System
A major reason for improper diabetes management is the solitude that comes with it. Help your loved one stay on track with their diabetes plan by sharing in the lifestyle. This includes reinventing mealtimes for the whole family, and developing and maintaining an exercise routine.
Not only will this help them lose weight and lower blood glucose levels, but can also provide combined health benefits for your entire family.
3. Offer Your Assistance
Instead of the vague ‘Let me know how I can help’ (which they most probably will never take you up on), be specific about the kind of assistance you can offer. Ask if they would like you to drive them to an appointment or therapy session, picking up their medication, or taking notes during a doctor’s appointment to recall important information later on.
While you’re there, expand your knowledge of diabetes management for better assistance by asking questions; there might even be something that can be useful to the patient themselves
4. Keep an Eye on Blood Sugar Drops
Gather all possible information on Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar-a potentially serious complication if ignored-especially if your friend or loved one is at risk for it. This will help you to recognize the signs (dizziness, shakiness, nausea, blurred vision, etc.) and administer emergency aid; since low blood sugar often causes mental confusion, making someone with diabetes unable to perform the necessary steps for elevating blood sugar levels.
Encourage a medical consultation for treatment adjustment if your friend or family member is prone to multiple hypoglycemic episodes.
5. Positivity and Tact
Poorly managed diabetes can cause a host of health complications, but talking about a relative who went blind or had to undergo an amputation will only amplify the anxiety. Instead, offer positive support through motivational stories and aiding disease management.
Moreover, avoid insensitive comments like ‘it could have been worse’, or ‘I didn’t know you’re diabetic’, as it only serves to degrade and alienate them further. Moreover, refrain from giving medical advice unless you specialize in the field.
6. Talk About Any Bedroom Issues
In women, diabetes increases the frequency of UTIs and vaginal infections, while some men may suffer from Erectile Dysfunction. Sexual intercourse can also be painful due to the nerve damage and vaginal dryness. If your partner has diabetes, be sure to openly discuss their discomforts and any self-esteem issues regarding their diabetes and sexual health.
Also, encourage them to consult their doctor in case of any serious sexual issues.
7. Show You Care
What people with diabetes-or any chronic condition for that matter-need is love and continued emotional support from friends and loved ones. The occasional hug, encouraging comment, and listening to their concerns can work wonders for diabetes management motivation. Even learning about the condition and partaking in enjoyable activities together can make them feel included and cared for.
Feelings of helplessness are only natural when someone you care for is diagnosed with diabetes. However, know that every little effort counts in helping them manage their condition and live life to the fullest. Also, learn how to help your child if they also have diabetes.