Living with diabetes blog

Tips for diabetes caregivers

By Sara J. Carlson, R.N., C.D.E. March 24, 2015

Friends and family members often struggle with how to support a loved one with diabetes and help with lifestyle changes. Here are some tips:

  • Know the facts. Learn everything you can about diabetes and your loved one's situation. Ask your loved one's health care provider for reliable resources such as books, pamphlets and web sites. Tag along to diabetes education classes and diabetes appointments if your loved one agrees. Don't offer unsolicited advice.
  • Walk the walk. Join your loved one in making healthy lifestyle changes. Make changes together as a team or household. Set small goals such as taking a walk after dinner or trying a new healthy recipe. Don't play the food or exercise police role.
  • Be patient. Allow your loved one time to process what can be an overwhelming amount of information and recommendations. Be patient with the extra time your loved one may need to read labels, count carbohydrates, monitor blood glucose, administer insulin, perform foot care or pack for a trip. Don't disregard the fact that managing diabetes is hard work.
  • Communicate your support. Ask your loved one how you can be helpful. Be specific about what you're able to help with. If your offer is refused, let your loved one know the door is open if and when they're ready. Don't offer help you're not willing to provide.
  • Take care of yourself. Recognize your limitations. No one can be helpful if they're exhausted or overly stressed. Also, we can't force others to change. If contention develops between you and your loved one regarding diabetes management, loving detachment may be the best approach. Don't compromise your own health or peace of mind

Please share your thoughts and experiences regarding caregiver support.

Warm regards,

Sara

March 24, 2015