When someone you love is diagnosed with diabetes, it can feel like you are a helpless bystander in their diabetes diagnosis. You are witnessing first hand how the high and low blood sugars impact their personality. You may be losing sleep alongside them every time their blood sugar alarm goes off. You may spend hours worrying about whether or not they are safe and healthy. You can find yourself lost and confused about the best way to support your loved one when you can’t shield them from the unfortunate mental, physical and emotional impacts that follow a diagnosis of diabetes. This blog post will walk you through 3 ways that you can support your loved one with diabetes so you can offset the burden of a diagnosis for both you and your loved one.
Mealtimes are undoubtedly one of the biggest areas people with diabetes may need support with. But, the way you support your loved one might not be what you are thinking. Caregivers have the best intentions at heart, they know you love and care about them and only want the best outcomes for them. However when someone says something like “are you sure you can eat that,” or “can I get you something else?” is incredibly frustrating for people with diabetes. At the end of the day, it is your loved one’s choice whether they want to eat something or not. When you question their decisions, it can come across like you are doubting their decision making or that you know better than them.
So if you shouldn’t make comments about what your loved one chooses to eat, how can you support them? When it comes to your loved one choosing a food to eat, it is a calculated decision making process. They are thinking about their current blood sugar, calculating carbs, how much activity they completed that day amongst numerous other factors and sometimes they may need assistance with the process. Here are some ideas for you to utilize to support your loved one with meals:
People with diabetes make more than 180 more decisions per day than the average person. Which means, they are bound to forget something at some point. When you are proactive about your loved one’s management, you are offering a gesture that you care about them and are thinking about them. Some ways that you can offer proactive support is:
One of the hardest things about diabetes is that even when you do everything “right,” you can still end up with an undesirable outcome. When your loved one spends hours each day on their management, it can be incredibly frustrating when things don’t go to plan. It is a heavy burden for them to carry alone and being the loving person that you are, you want to jump into action and help them. You start asking questions like when did you last eat? When did you take your insulin? Did you take a correction? How long ago did you take it?
As well intended your actions are, they may make your loved one feel even more at fault. Instead of asking them 20 questions about the situation, offer a listening ear and let them vent about how frustrating diabetes is. It will provide them with a safe-space to let out their frustrations without worrying that you will judge them. If you are ever unsure if your loved one needs help or a listening-ear, just ask them. They will be able to tell you what will be most comforting to them in the moment.
When someone you love has diabetes, you may not know what to do, what to say, or how to best support them. Check out Episode 29: This One’s for the Parents, Partners, and Supports of a T1D where host Lissie Poyner shares real-life examples to help caregivers gain clarity on what to do, what to say, and how to best support their loved one. Full episode is available now on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.