Being a supportive partner can be both a gratifying and a challenging role – especially when living with a person with diabetes. Diabetes affects the whole family, not just the one taking medicine.
Want to know how you can help?
1. Try to keep food temptations away and have healthy options at home. Support the diabetic in your family by having everyone eat healthy. And don’t nag if they sometimes ‘cheat’ or stray from their eating plan.
2. Make time to do exercise together – lots of fun exercises can be done as a family. Make exercising regularly a habit for both of you.
3. Remind your partner to see their medical team on a regular basis. Help them set up a few questions to ask so they get as much as possible out of the visit.
4. Set a reminder to have their monthly medication fetched from the pharmacy in time. Encourage them to test their blood sugar often.
5. Educate yourself about diabetes. Learn as much as you can, from the right sources – Dr. Google is not always right!
6. Learn to know the signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and what to do about it. Know how to test your partner’s blood glucose if necessary, and how to inject glucagon in an emergency.
7. If sexual problems arise, talk about it. Counseling may help if one partner feels rejected, and there is medication for erectile dysfunction if it becomes a problem. Just ask!
8. Look out for any signs of depression, mental fatigue or diabetes burn-out. Take action on these signs, as depression is not something that will heal itself.
9. Respect your partner’s personal decisions. This is sometimes very difficult, but you need to show your faith in them – diabetes is, at the end of the day, their condition.
10. Help your partner maintain balance in their life. Offer them a shoulder to lean on and help them to find solutions to their problems – but don’t try to solve the problems for them.
– Jeannie Berg, Diabetes Educator
“I would like to know to help and support a friend who has diabetes. My friend is a Type 1 diabetic and I’m not always sure how to help him in the tough times.” Markus Vorster
You have not said how old your friend is, but much of the basics stay the same. Here are 7 ways to support your friend with diabetes.
- First of all, treat your friend like anyone else. It is important for him to realise that his diabetes makes absolutely no difference to your friendship. If your friend is having trouble accepting his condition, be supportive and understanding.
- Try not to ‘mother’ him, but do encourage him to look after himself.
- Understand that people with diabetes are more prone to mood swings and depression than those who do not have diabetes.
- Learn to be able to recognise when his blood sugar goes too low, and know what to do in case he needs help.
- Remember, really tough times for diabetics are when they are sick. Blood glucose levels bounce up and down and this makes them feel more ill.
- Give him all your support by understanding his condition to the best of your ability.
- Get the facts and go beyond the myths and misinformation by talking to your friend, your doctor, or relatives who have diabetes.
As a friend, your understanding and acceptance are very important. The more you understand his circumstances, the less alone your friend is likely to feel.
Empathise, but never sympathise.
– Jeannie Berg, Diabetes Educator
Teens with Type 1
Teenagers with Type 1 diabetes feel especially isolated and alone. It’s bad enough dealing with body changes and hormonal issues, but add to that testing blood sugar, keeping tabs on what you eat and injecting yourself, as well as mood swings, and you can see why teens with Type 1 have a lot to deal with. Understanding what goes into diabetes means you can help your teen feel less self-conscious and different from everyone else.