Supporting a Loved One with Diabetes: A Guide to Nurturing Health and Well-being

November 01, 2023
Diabetes Health Topic
5 min read

WRITTEN BY

Stephen Shurgalla, PA-C

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Living with diabetes can be challenging, not only for the person diagnosed with the condition but also for their loved ones. As a supportive friend or family member, understanding how to provide assistance and create a positive environment is crucial. By educating yourself about diabetes, adopting healthy habits together, and offering emotional support, you can help them navigate their diabetes journey with confidence and improved well-being.

One of the first steps in supporting a loved one with diabetes is to educate yourself about the condition. Learn about the different types of diabetes, their symptoms, treatment options, and the importance of blood sugar (glucose) management. Familiarize yourself with common terms like hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) to better understand their experiences and potential complications. Knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions and offer helpful guidance.

Encouraging healthy habits is another key aspect of supporting your loved one. Promote a nutritious diet by planning and preparing balanced meals together. Focus on incorporating whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables while minimizing sugary and processed foods.  Try to role-model portion control and mindful eating. Regular physical activity is vital for managing diabetes. Find activities you can enjoy together, such as walking, swimming, or dancing. Joining them in their activities motivates them and strengthens your bond.

Assisting your loved one with their medication and monitoring routine is also helpful. Encourage them to  take their prescribed medications on time and help them organize their supplies, such as insulin, test strips, and glucose monitors. Offer reminders and support, especially if they need to regularly check their blood sugar levels.

Social situations can present unique challenges for individuals with diabetes. When attending events or gatherings, offer support by making healthy food choices choices together. Encourage them to communicate their dietary needs with the host in advance or bring a dish that aligns with their dietary needs. Show understanding and avoid judgment if they need to decline certain foods or drinks.

Living with diabetes can sometimes be emotionally draining. Be an empathetic listener and provide a safe space for your loved one to express their concerns, frustrations, or fears about their condition. Offer encouragement and remind them of their strengths. If necessary, help them find a diabetes support group or connect with others who understand their challenges.

Stay involved in their care by showing genuine interest and participation in their diabetes management. Accompany them to medical appointments and take notes to help them remember important information. Stay updated on the latest advancements in diabetes care and share relevant news or research that might be helpful to them.

It is important to recognize signs of distress in your loved one. Keep an eye out for diabetes-related distress, such as burnout, anxiety, or depression. Encourage self-care activities, such as relaxation techniques, hobbies, or taking breaks when needed. If you notice persistent signs of distress, gently suggest seeking professional help from a healthcare provider or mental health specialist.

Supporting a loved one with diabetes requires a combination of knowledge, empathy, and practical assistance. You can positively impact their well-being by educating yourself about the condition, encouraging healthy habits, providing emotional support, and actively participating in their care. Remember, your support plays a vital role in helping them manage their diabetes effectively while living a fulfilling life.

Mount Nittany Health's diabetes team offers a full range of clinical, nutritional and educational services to provide patients the highest level of care. Call 814.689.3156 to schedule an appointment with one of our Endocrinology specialists or visit mountnittany.org/diabetes-care for more information.

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