Education on Diabetes, Psychological

Supporting family and friends living with diabetes

If you have a friend or family member living with diabetes and you are wondering how you can support them, keep reading for some pointers!

1. Don’t be the ‘diabetes police’

The ‘diabetes police’ is the term we use for when it feels like a family member or friend is constantly nagging about diabetes, and making the person feel overwhelmed and even out of control.

Nagging makes everyone feel frustrated, and makes the friend or family member with diabetes feel like they are doing something wrong all the time. It may even cause them to shut off and not speak about any issues they are facing with their diabetes.

The hard truth is that people living with diabetes cannot ALWAYS have balanced sugar levels because so many factors can cause glucose levels to fluctuate.

An example is saying something like ‘should you be drinking that? There’s too much sugar in it for you’. A comment like this is going to make the person living with diabetes feel guilty and stressed about their choices. So maybe it is better to say something like ‘there is also a diet/sugar free option, take whatever you need’.

2. Ask them exactly how they need support

Everyone is different and people living with diabetes may struggle with different things at different times.

For example, one month high glucose may be an issue, whereas the next month it could be the opposite, and the person living with diabetes might be struggling with a lot of low glucose events.

By offering help, your friend or family member living with diabetes will acknowledge your support and they might bring up a topic they are really struggling with, that you had absolutely no idea about. For example they could be really nervous and stressed about a checkup appointment and could really use your advise and support.

The burden of living with diabetes can really impact wellbeing and can cause feelings of isolation and loneliness. Just checking up on your friend or family member living with diabetes will go a long way and can make such a positive impact to their health and mindset.

3. Encourage healthy eating

Encouraging healthy eating can actually be really simple and subtle.

If a friend or family member with diabetes is coming over for drinks or a meal, the easiest thing to do is to make sure there are food or drink options available for them. For example, choosing to make a meal that contains brown carbs rather than white carbs.

Again, just communicate and ask what you can do to make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the diabetic any preferences they have when it comes to cooking.

For more tips on foods to eat with diabetes, read my blog 5 foods diabetics should be eating!

4. Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of hyper and hypoglycaemia

Learn how your friend or family member specifically acts when they have high or low sugar levels. The general symptoms of both hyperglycaemia and hypoglycaemia are pretty similar, and different people can experience different symptoms.

General signs and symptoms include thirstiness, feeling ‘hangry’, irritability, anxiety, dizziness and sweating. For more information look at the signs and symptoms on the NHS website.

The best way to be supportive is to ask your friend or family member how to recognise their hypo’s and hyper’s, and how they would like you to react when they are experiencing either.

Always carry snacks around and make sure you know how to check their sugar levels just incase.

5. Encourage them to get further support

If it’s clear that your friend or family member is struggling with diabetes in any way, gently encourage them to get some advice. It can be as simple as encouraging them to join a Facebook group that is aimed at supporting people living with diabetes.

Thank you so much for reading this weeks blog! Remember to email me any feedback or requests!

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