How to cheer on a loved one with diabetes

October 20, 2015 Providence Health Team

Diabetes, especially when it’s a new diagnosis, can be overwhelming. Whether you’re concerned about a family member or friend, consider the following tips when helping a loved one with diabetes thrive.

Educate yourself

There are lots of myths and misinformation surrounding diabetes. Plus, everyone’s diagnosis is different. That’s why it’s critical to know the facts so you can best support someone, based on his individual needs. To start, visit the American Diabetes Association and learn more about the disease. See if your local hospital offers diabetes education classes, and consider joining a support group (online or in your community).

Be a good listener

Open a dialogue and ask specific questions about how he feels. Listen carefully — sometimes, a person just wants to be heard. Not sure what to say? Here are some examples of questions:

  • Are you worried about anything in particular?
  • What goals have you set?
  • Is anything hindering you from meeting those goals?
  • What can I do to help make your life easier?

Eat well

Set a good example when you’re together. If you live in the same house, you may need to adjust how you grocery shop or cook. It could also mean skipping dessert to avoid tempting others.

Stay active together

Exercising is a great way to cope with stress while spending quality time together. Find an activity you both enjoy, whether that’s training for a fun race, taking daily walks or hiking on the weekends.

Recognize symptoms

If you suspect someone’s blood sugar is too high or low, encourage him to check it. Signs of high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, include frequent urination, extreme thirst and blurry vision. On the other hand, if someone has low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Exhaustion
  • Frequent yawning
  • Inability to speak or think clearly
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Sweating
  • Twitching
  • Seizures
  • Sudden feeling that you’re about to pass out
  • Turning pale
  • Loss of consciousness

Remain patient

Managing diabetes is a lifelong process. Inevitably, there will be good days and bad days. Encourage your loved one to set small, attainable goals and follow up periodically to see how he’s doing. Just try not to pester him when you do.

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