Diabetes Forecast

12 Tips on How to Give Support

By Lindsey Wahowiak , , ,

As a caregiver, you want to learn about diabetes, you want to be able to help, but you definitely don't want to overstep your bounds or say the wrong thing.

What to do? An informal poll of Diabetes Forecast readers on Facebook shows, resoundingly, that the best thing to do is ask your loved one how best to help. Ask "What can I do?" or "What should I know?" or "Can you tell me more?" More than anything, that's what readers say they'd like to hear— and then they'd like you to listen to what they have to say. Other caregivers who have been there before have great advice, too. Some more tips from readers include:

Enjoying Food Together
Some blood glucose–lowering medications, such as insulin, start working fast, and a delay in a meal can lead to a low blood sugar. "If you invite a person with diabetes to eat in your home, let them know what time to arrive but also what time food will be served—and serve food on time."—Lisa Gaffaney

For people counting carbs and calories, it's nice to have beverage options. "Offer water to drink, as well as tea or other nonsweetened drinks. [And] don't wince when we check our [blood glucose]."—Julie Lloyd Atkinson

"I am recently diagnosed and my husband surprises me at work with lunch sometimes ... and always leaves a note with how many carbs and fiber are in the meal so I don't have to worry about calculating it all. Very sweet."—Emily Richards

Creating a Community
No one has to face diabetes alone. "I take my neighbor to a diabetic support group in our community every month so she [doesn't] have to go alone. I get educated as well so I can help her."—Lisa Duke Batchelor

Getting involved shows you're invested in your loved one's cause. "Simply tell them they are loved and supported! Give them a hug. And … participate in the annual [Tour de Cure®] bicycle [ride] to raise money and awareness."—Danny Fox

Learning More
"Education. Type 1 is so different from type 2, and unless you are around it, people just don't understand how much of a battle it can be. And, ask how we are feeling. [It] helps just to know people acknowledge that even though we may look normal, there is a lot going on in our bodies that you can't see."—Jayme Hall Kepner

Diabetes needn't stop a person of any age from enjoying life. "Help teachers and coaches understand that children with type 1 are still able to play, jump, run, and participate in sports. Leaving them on the bench just adds to their feeling of being 'different.' Allow them to test blood sugars, eat a snack, or carry a bottle of water at school."—Johanna Easdon Hicks

"The biggest lesson that I have learned in the last year to help my 12-year-old with type 1 is to not [over]react when his numbers are high. ... We do everything right and check his numbers, and [they're] high. At first I would start questioning, 'Why? What did we do wrong?' He would get upset. Now it's 'OK. Let's just take care of it and move on to the next reading.' "—Brenda Moreland Lands Khoury

Showing You Care
Diabetes can take its toll emotionally. Be ready to give a little extra compassion. "Be patient with them and realize that fluctuating blood sugars can affect moods. Support and love are strong factors also."—Sharon Cesario

"Give your loved one a hug after suffering a low blood sugar [episode]."—Lori Ann Berti

"When my loved ones vent about the daily stresses or refuse to manage effectively, [I try to] show some tactful empathy, love, and understanding. Building each other up is a process!"—Jerry Glass

Sometimes you don't have to use your words—actions can show that you care. "Let them know you don't have to be ashamed. I help my son by eating healthy right along with him, always showing support, and letting him know he is important."—Suegene Tatman



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