Living with diabetes blog

Tips for diabetes caregivers

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N. February 19, 2011

Friends or family members often ask us how they can help a loved one who has diabetes to make lifestyle changes. With a husband who has type 2 diabetes and two sons who have type 1 diabetes, I know that there's a lot to learn about living well with diabetes on a personal level. Diabetes is a hard disease to handle alone.

Here are some ways that you can support your friend or loved one.

  • Voice your support. Let the person with diabetes know that you love them and are willing to help.
  • Learn about diabetes. Read books and reliable websites on diabetes. And go to doctor's appointments and diabetes classes with your loved one.
  • Talk about your feelings. Let your loved one know that his or her diabetes affects you, too.
  • Let go. It's not your responsibility to manage another person's diabetes. Just because I'm a certified diabetes educator doesn't give me nagging rights. My family members with diabetes feel more comfortable asking for help when I'm simply available to them.

I've also found that lifestyle changes that are good for a person who has diabetes are also beneficial to the rest of the family. For example:

  • Exercise together. Exercise for you and your loved one with diabetes. Invite your loved one to go to the gym or for a walk with you.
  • Choose healthy foods. Healthy meals benefit the whole family. If you have a relative with diabetes, you're at risk. Making lifestyle changes now can postpone or prevent diabetes!
  • Encourage. Applaud your loved one's efforts and successes and encourage him or her during struggles.
  • Be considerate. When having a party, offer healthy, tasty treats such as fresh fruit.
  • Seek outside help. If your loved one is sad or depressed, ask your health care provider about ways to get help. Ask about a diabetes support group in your area. You can also ask to meet with a certified diabetes educator.

Being the primary caregiver for a person who has diabetes can take an emotional toll. A diabetes caregiver may be the one taking ownership of his or her loved one's diabetes if the person with diabetes doesn't or can't. If you find it's too much for you, talk with your healthcare provider or diabetes educator. Together, you can determine at what point you may need outside assistance, such as from a nurse.


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Feb. 19, 2011