Diabetes is a growing epidemic. In the U.S. alone, over 30 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes. That means you likely know someone who has been affected by diabetes. It can be difficult when someone you care about is diagnosed with a life-changing chronic disease like diabetes. You want to help and be supportive, but you may not be sure exactly how that looks. If that’s the case, here are a few tips on what you can do to help your loved one.
The first step in dealing with a diabetes diagnosis is to educate yourself and encourage your loved one to educate themselves as well. The more you know, the more helpful and supportive you can be. Learning the ins and outs of diabetes, as well as the symptoms of high (hyperglycemia) and low (hypoglycemia) blood sugar is imperative. Understanding what can be done to prevent emergencies and complications and what to do if problems arise is critical.
It will take time for your loved one to adjust to the changes they need to make. It can be frustrating and challenging. During the period of adjustment, it’s essential to show your concern and be understanding. Let your loved one know that they aren’t in this situation alone. Ask how you can help, and consider accompanying them to their doctor’s appointments.
Encourage your relative to make healthy choices by making the same choices for yourself. Eat what they eat and avoid having foods in the house that they aren’t supposed to have. By making the changes alongside your loved one, you can show solidarity and help them feel less alone.
Offer to exercise together. You can take walks together or go jogging or bike riding. Maybe you’re both into swimming or dancing. Whatever it is, pick things you both enjoy and set aside time to do those things together. A healthy, active lifestyle can benefit both of you and make the adjustments easier.
Stress can increase blood sugar levels making it more challenging to maintain control. Encourage your loved one to talk about their struggles and frustrations. Help them learn positive coping strategies for stress management.
Be aware that significant changes in blood sugar levels can cause mood swings. These mood swings can make them feel restless, anxious, irritable, or confused. If your loved one is struggling emotionally, it can be a good idea to encourage them to see a counselor or join a support group.
Adjusting to life with diabetes can be challenging; however, with a reliable support network behind them, your loved one will have a much easier time learning to manage their diabetes. Educating yourself and becoming an integral part of the care team is the best thing you can do to show you care. Your support and encouragement can genuinely make a difference.