November is Diabetes Awareness Month, an annual campaign where people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes come together to share their experience and raise awareness.
For someone with diabetes it can sometimes be stressful or frustrating trying to control their blood sugar levels. Having a support network can make a big difference to their wellbeing and diabetes management.
In our ‘Supporting a Loved One’ series for Diabetes Awareness Month we’ll be looking at how you can support friends and family with managing their diabetes.
In this first week, we’re focusing on how you can support a parent.
The age of your parent might affect the approach you take, particularly with regards to how they view their diabetes. Many older people can have good control over their diabetes, but some may need additional support. Everyone is different so a good place to begin would be to ask them what they would like help with. This lets them know that you’re there to support them but also helps them to remain in control.
Here are some other suggestions which you may find helpful:
- Learn more about diabetes
It’s often a good idea to learn about what diabetes is and how it’s managed. For example, you could learn how to spot the signs of high and low blood sugars. If they’re ok with you doing so, you may want to ask if you can go with them to doctor’s appointments. There’s also plenty of information on the internet, including the Diabetes.co.uk website.
- Planning stress-free activities
Feeling stressed can affect our blood sugar levels and make them harder to control. It might be a good idea to plan activities together where your parent has a chance to relax and talk about anything that might be worrying them. You could look into spending time doing something that they enjoy doing such as going to the cinema or visiting a museum for example.
- Noticing changes in self-care
While you don’t want to come across as nagging, it might also be important to notice any changes in your parent’s diabetes management. For example, if they don’t seem to be checking their blood sugar levels as often you might want to gently remind them of the importance of checking regularly.
- Making changes together
If your parent is open to new ideas about managing their diabetes you could offer to make the changes with them. For example, if your parent is considering adopting a low carb lifestyle you could suggest that you get together to cook a low carb dinner as a family. If they would like to become more active, you could consider going for a walk together or joining a local exercise class.
- Finding a family support group
If your parent feels that they need extra support, it might be helpful for them to share their experiences with others who have diabetes. You could encourage them to ask their GP if there are any local support groups they can attend. Family support groups are also available if you feel you need extra support or information on how to support your parent.