5 worries of having a loved one with diabetes, and how they can be addressed

Many people with diabetes can find daily challenges hard to bear, such as diet management, but you may also be affected to a similar degree if you have a loved one with diabetes.

It may be your partner, child, family member or friend has diabetes, but this doesn’t stop you from worrying about them.

We’ve selected five common concerns among people with diabetic loved ones, whether they have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. We’ll also provide solutions to these worries so that you and your loved one can feel stronger together in managing their diabetes.

1. Worrying about their long-term health

Following your loved one’s diabetes diagnosis, it’s natural to worry about their long-term health.

Having diabetes means your loved one has an increased risk of developing long-term complications, but that isn’t to say they will definitely experience complications.

Some people can develop complications after only having diabetes for a few years, while others can live for decades without suffering any adverse health effects.

Keeping blood glucose levels and weight under control can reduce the risk of complications, as can living a healthy, active lifestyle.

2. Worrying about hypoglycemia

It is important to know as much as you can about low blood sugar if your loved one is at risk of hypoglycemia.

Hypos can be scary experiences for your loved one, but also for you. Low blood sugar can lead to drastic mood changes: irritation, confusion and aggression are among the most common examples.

If you don’t know your loved one is having a hypo, this can put a strain on your relationship. Try to be patient and forgiving; if they snap at you, it’s likely just the effect of the hypo, especially if they’ve only recently been diagnosed.

Be sure to research the symptoms of a hypo, and in time, by matching symptoms to low blood sugar, you will be able to assess which hypo symptoms your loved one exhibits.

Another concern might be that your loved one has a hypo when they are not with you, and that they fail to recognise hypo symptoms. To increase your knowledge on hypoglycemia, and your partner’s, make sure you both visit the Hypo Training Program for information on how to identify, prevent and manage hypos.

3. Food choices

Family meals can be harder if a loved one has diabetes, especially if you’re the cook. Your loved one may feel uncomfortable if the rest of the family are eating sweet or high calorie foods, but they are eating a lower-carb option.

Ideally, the whole family should adopt the same healthy diet as your loved one. Not only will this help your loved one feel less alone and keep them committed to their new diet plan, but healthy eating will benefit everyone. For some inspiration, check out Diabetes Cookbooks to ensure that all your family are eating nutritious, tasty food together.

It may be that you, or a family member wants to eat a different diet to your loved one, but remember that the main thing is to ensure that your loved one is eating healthily. Make sure the lines of communication are always open so that your loved one doesn’t feel tempted by foods others are having.

4. Living with complications

If your loved one has diabetic complications, or is at a high risk of complications, they can feel vulnerable. They may go through a period of denial regarding the severity of their complications, and struggle to communicate with you about their feelings.

To learn more about complications, and they how they emotionally affect people with diabetes, visit the Diabetes Forum, which contains a thread on Diabetes Complications.

You could either sign up yourself, or encourage your loved one to do so – they may feel more comfortable talking to other people with diabetes. Try not to take it personally if your loved one doesn’t want to discuss their diabetes, or complications with you – it may be that they don’t want to upset you.

5. Discussing your feelings

You can feel like you’re walking on eggshells when discussing your loved one’s diabetes. This can be the case whether they have just been diagnosed or if they’ve recently had a health scare.

If you have concerns about their diabetes, you might find it difficult to tell them how it’s making you feel. People in that situation often feel like their loved one has enough to worry about, without them bringing up extra concerns.

However, sharing your feelings can be extremely worthwhile. Your loved one may not be aware how their diabetes affects you as well, and communication with them can help you come together to feel less alone and overwhelmed.

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About the author

Jack Woodfield

Jack is Editorial Manager of Diabetes.co.uk. He works hard, plays fair and sleeps whenever possible. He has type 1 diabetes, doesn't mind being called a "diabetic", and once won a talent show for dancing to Dario G’s 1997 hit “Sunchyme”.

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