My spouse has recently been diagnosed with diabetes. What can I do to be supportive?

Answers from Sara J. Carlson, R.N., C.D.E.

Family members often struggle with how to support a loved one who has diabetes. Here are some tips:

  • Educate yourself. Learn everything you can about diabetes and your loved one's situation. 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.
  • 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. Look for a support group for caregivers.
May 08, 2018 See more Expert Answers