How To Support Someone With Diabetes

According to 2015 Statistics, 415,000,000 people worldwide have diabetes.

Therefore, the likelihood of someone you love developing diabetes is high.

For diabetics, managing and coping with diabetes can be challenging or overwhelming. 

Keep reading to learn how you can support your loved one with diabetes.

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About diabetes

Diabetes mellitus falls into three groups, Type 1, Type 2, and gestational. Both Type 1 & 2 are chronic conditions, and gestational diabetes is unique to pregnancy. Glucose in the foods we eat fuels our bodies’ cells. Insulin acts as the key to the cells to allow the glucose to enter. 

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. In this disease state, the body begins to attack the beta cells of the pancreas, which are responsible for making insulin. 

The damage is, unfortunately, permanent. As a result, the body doesn’t produce insulin. Scientists believe the attack may be genetic in origin or environmental causes. 

Type 2 Diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t respond to the insulin the way it should or doesn’t make enough. As this develops gradually, other health concerns emerge. Blood pressure elevates, cholesterol levels can increase, and eventually, type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes can be unique to the pregnancy or can continue postpartum. An oral glucose tolerance test is administered between 24-28 weeks gestation. It is diagnosed as gestational diabetes if abnormal amounts of glucose are in the urine. 

Many can control this type of diabetes with lifestyle changes. Some cases may need insulin. When treated, there is little risk of complications. Untreated, it may cause complications during and after birth. The diabetes diagnosis can happen quickly, or symptoms may develop over time. Paying attention to your body’s cues is very important.

If you have a loved one in your life that has diabetes, you may be concerned about their health and care. Here we will discuss ways you can help them on their journey.

Understanding how they might feel and how you can help

The diagnosis can come with overwhelm. There will suddenly be a slew of doctor appointments, items to log and check. 

Managing diabetes may look slightly different if you are supporting a child. Diabetes self-management develops over time with diabetes experts. When supporting a child, they will likely require a more intensive effort on your part. There are several ways that you can be a compassionate support person. 

The ultimate goal is maintaining a healthy blood sugar level to avoid further diabetes complications from occurring. Complications can include developing high blood glucose levels and blood pressure. These can lead to issues like neuropathy and cardiovascular concerns.

5 Tips For Supporting a Loved One With Diabetes

1) Don’t Nag

Offering diabetes support walks the fine line between being helpful and overly intrusive. While it’s acceptable to offer suggestions, nagging can undoubtedly cause your loved one to be less than upfront with you about their health, and they may shut down and refuse your help.

2) Knowledge is power

Be knowledgeable in medication routines. It is also imperative to understand the signs and symptoms of both low and high blood sugar levels. Be aware of what to do if your loved one gets ill. They will likely require additional care during times of illness.

Diabetes education classes may be useful for you. They provide ongoing learning opportunities. 

3) Engage In Physical activity With Them

Participate in physical activity with your loved one. Not only will it strengthen your relationship, but it can help them to manage their diabetes. Often medications and insulin can be avoided with lifestyle changes that include the proper diet and weight loss. 

4) Encourage Healthy Eating

Receiving a diabetes diagnosis often means that the person with diabetes has to make lifestyle changes. A change in their eating habits may be challenging or overwhelming for them, so offer your support and encourage them to eat healthily. 

You could help them research the best foods and drinks to include in their diet, come up with a meal plan, and learn the impact certain foods will have on their blood sugar levels.

Moreover, a registered dietician can help diabetics come up with a plan and foster healthy eating. Offer to attend their doctor’s appointments with them so they aren’t alone.

5) Attend a Support Group With Them

Diabetes support groups exist to support the patient’s family or the individual. Frequently these are run in collaboration with a hospital or outpatient clinics. 

Peer support groups will include others with the diabetes diagnosis. These are very helpful because others living with the disease often understand the intricacies and emotions attached to the difficulties. 

A dietitian may lead group classes in person, text support, or virtually. A startling 45% of participants in an Australian study of peer support groups had a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk after five years.

Conclusion

For diabetics, managing and coping with diabetes can be challenging. You can support your loved one(s) who have diabetes by offering to attend doctor’s appointments or support groups with them, exercising with them, and encouraging healthy eating.

Managing diabetes can be overwhelming, so it is crucial that you maintain a positive outlook and ascertain the support the person with diabetes may need.

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Learn the best Tips And Strategies For Managing Diabetes.

Sources

  1. Aziz, Z., Riddell, M. A., Abetz, P., Brand, M., Oldenburg, B., & Australasian Peers for Progress Diabetes Project Investigators (2018). Peer support to improve diabetes care: an implementation evaluation of the Australasian Peers for Progress Diabetes Program. BMC public health18(1), 262. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-5148-8
  2. Hwee J, Cauch-Dudek K, Victor JC, Ng R, Shah BR. Diabetes education through group classes leads to better care and outcomes than individual counselling in adults: a population-based cohort study. Can J Public Health. 2014. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25165838/
Alternative Text

Erin Palma (RD, CDN)

Erin has worked in the field of nutrition and the food industry for 16 years. Initially she studied Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University. She then went on to study nutrition at Syracuse University. She has served on the Genesee Dietetic Association Board, is part of the Diabetes Educators Association, and was a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Rochester Regional Center for Autism.

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