Today is National Siblings Day, we wanted to use this day to focus on how we can support a loved one with diabetes. Whether it’s type 1 or type 2 diabetes, receiving a diagnosis can be worrying so we want to know the best way to support them and what we can do to help.
Here are some suggestions on ways you can support a loved one with diabetes:
- Take an interest
Educating yourself on diabetes including its symptoms and how its managed can help you become a better support partner. Understanding their condition means that your loved one might feel more comfortable opening up to you about their feelings or worries and it will help to answer any questions or queries you might have. For example, fluctuating sugar levels can often lead to changes in mood so it’s important to be patient and understand that this is a common symptom. A good place to start could be searching on diabetes.co.uk or joining our low carb program.
- Ask how you can help
Even if you already know someone with diabetes or feel you know a lot about it often what you think someone needs help with could be very different to what they actually want help with. Just asking the question can often give them a chance to be open and honest. If they’re not sure, you could suggest if they would like you to come with them to the doctors’ appointments, help them plan meals or even remind them to check their blood sugar levels.
- Make it a team effort
Often it can be easier making a lifestyle change when you’re not making it alone. You could offer to make some changes with them or even make it a team effort and aim to adopt a healthier lifestyle as a household. Some examples could be going food shopping together, cooking low carb meals or even regularly going for walks. Having someone following their plan with them can be encouraging and motivating and they’re more likely to stick to it.
Being diagnosed with diabetes can be tough and stressful. Stress can wreak havoc on our blood sugars so it can help to have someone to talk to. It can also help them to feel less alone. Let them know that you’re there to listen if they want to talk, sometimes it helps to have a vent!
- Offer ideas, but don’t nag
Even if you’ve done your research and read up about all the best ways to manage diabetes, remember that your loved one might have different views to your own. Wanting what’s best for them means you might feel tempted to tell them what to do, but it’s important to not try and play the ‘diabetes police’ and to let them stay in control. If they’re open to new ideas – then that’s great. But if they’re struggling with motivation or feeling that they’re doing everything they can, then this might be more difficult. Instead it might help to be honest with them about how you’re feeling and reminding them that you care about them and just want what’s best for them. This keeps them in control and lets them know they can come to you if they want to.
- Suggest support groups
Even though you can do your best to learn everything about the condition sometimes it can be helpful talking to other people who have gone through a similar experience. Support groups are good places to share how you’re feeling and can help you feel positive and motivated. You can offer to go with them if they feel uncomfortable going alone. As someone supporting a loved one with diabetes it can be a good place for you to share your thoughts and feelings too.
- Look after yourself
There can be lots of different feelings that can come with caring for someone with diabetes and there’s no right or wrong way to feel. You might feel sad, angry or even frustrated. This is completely normal and you shouldn’t feel bad for feeling this way. Make sure you have time to yourself to relax and do something you enjoy doing. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support if you feel like you’re struggling. Looking after your own health puts you in a better position to help your loved one with theirs.