Diabetes, family support and you
A diabetes diagnosis can come as quite a shock, not only to the person diagnosed, but to the family as well. They may have many questions: What does this all mean? What is diabetes management? How can we help our loved on? What changes must we make in our own lifestyles?
Studies have shown strong family support can make a significant difference in how well a person manages his or her diabetes. Family support can take various forms, such as preparing sugar-free foods the whole family can enjoy, encouraging and reminding you to take your prescribed medications, or turning daily exercise into a family affair.
Five ways to develop family support
How can your family keep you on track? Here are five ideas that can help.
- Educate your family on diabetes. Pick up pamphlets, books and other materials they can read in their own time. Be available to answer any questions they might have. If you don't know the answer, work on finding it together.
- Tell them what to do to help. Your family probably wants to help, but they might not be sure of how to do so. Guide them by telling them what you need. For example, perhaps you need a reminder to take your insulin, or a gentle push to avoid that apple pie at the next family reunion.
- Don't play the blame game. And don't let anyone else do it, either. Many people believe that diabetes can simply resolve itself if they eat properly, exercise, drop weight and take their medication. Although those actions are traditionally essential for staying healthy, they won't miraculously cure the disease. If your family members ever wonder why you can't 'get this thing under control,' take the time to explain why diabetes management just isn't that simple.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Your family members may have many concerns, worries and fears. Your diabetes diagnosis can be frightening to everyone involved. Encouraging your family members to talk about the diagnosis may lead to a better understanding of what to expect.
- Look into family services. Many health care facilities offer family services to those who are learning to deal with the medical needs of a diabetic relative. These services can provide great insight into the lifestyle changes needed to control your diabetes, and leave your family members with a sense of empowerment.
Family support can spur lifestyle changes
Any lifestyle change can be a challenge. You can make it easier on yourself and your family by starting with smaller goals before moving to larger ones. Some changes your family can make right now might include the following:
- Use sugar-free substitutes in favorite recipes
- Incorporate exercise into family outings
- Search for and share information about diabetes
- Keep temptations at bay by providing healthy snacks and desserts
- Know and watch for the signs of blood sugar problems
Your family plays a significant role in living a healthy, happy life with diabetes. So, let them help.