Diabetes support

Supporting a Loved One With Diabetes

By Christa O’Mara | Nurse Practitioner

Family and friend support make a big difference in how someone manages their diabetes, according to the CDC. We all want to help our loved ones but it can confusing what do to.  Here are a few tips that can help!

How to Help

  1. Understand diabetes: Understanding how the body works will help you understand diabetes. When a person eats or drinks something with carbohydrates, it turns into glucose (sugar) in the body. This sugar flows thru the blood stream to feed all the cells of your body, but it cant get into the cell without help. Insulin does this! If you have type 1 diabetes, your body stopped making insulin. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body has become resistant to insulin, so the insulin doesn’t work as well anymore. Neither type of diabetes is worse than the other. In both types of diabetes, the sugar levels in the blood rise and can’t get into the cells. Every person is different, so each person’s treatment plan will vary. But there are some common things that are important for everyone.
  2. Be supportive: Being supportive and kind are both important. Your loved one did not do something wrong. Being blamed or criticized will just make them feel bad and won’t help them get better. Being optimistic can make a huge impact! Ask if you can join them at medical appointments or diabetes education classes. 
  3. Make changes together: Create a daily routine of doing some fun types of exercise or other activity. Exercise makes your body use insulin better and lowers blood sugar levels. Choose something together that you and your loved one like to do. Move as much as possible. Remember exercising does not mean you need to go to a gym. You can dance, jog, walk briskly, swim, ride a bike, play soccer or basketball, run and play with your kids or your dog; the possibilities are endless! Your goal is 30 minutes a day, but its okay to start with 10 minutes per day and increase it every week.
  4. Eat better together: There are plenty of delicious, healthy foods to choose from! One option is the plate method. Half your plate can be a non-starch veggie, one quarter should be a nutrition dense carbohydrate and the remaining quarter can be a lean protein. The NOAH nutrition team has a video explaining this in detail. The American Diabetes Association is also a great resource for information. They even have recipes! Your health care provider can also connect you with one of our dieticians to work with you and your loved one.

Receiving a diagnosis of diabetes can be scary. But with lifestyle changes and medications that are tailored to each person, this disease can be controlled so complications are avoided. There are many diseases where this is not an option. Having the support, acceptance and love of friends and family will help your loved one (and yourself) feel better and improve your health!