Dos and don'ts when supporting those with diabetes
By Mayo Clinic News Network
- Don't offer unsolicited advice about what a person should eat or other aspects of his or her diabetes management. You may mean well, but giving advice about someone's personal choices, especially when it hasn't been requested, isn't very nice. In addition, many of the popularly held beliefs about diabetes, such as "you should just stop eating sugar," are out of date or just plain wrong.
- Do realize and appreciate that managing diabetes is hard work. Diabetes management is a full-time job that people with diabetes didn't apply for, don't want and can't quit. It involves thinking about what, when and how much to eat, while also factoring in exercise, medication, stress, blood-sugar monitoring and so much more.
- Don't tell horror stories about your family member, friend or any other person with diabetes. Diabetes is scary enough, and stories like these aren't reassuring. Besides, we now know that with good management, many people with diabetes can live long, healthy and happy lives.
- Do offer to join your loved one in making healthy lifestyle changes. Not having to be alone in efforts to change, like starting an exercise program, can be powerful and helpful. After all, healthy lifestyle changes can benefit everyone!
- Don't react negatively if a person checks his or her blood glucose or gives him or herself an insulin injection in front of you. Checking blood sugar levels and taking medications are things a person with diabetes must do to manage diabetes well. If he or she has to hide while doing so, it's that much harder.
- Do ask how you might be helpful. If you want to be supportive, there may be lots of little things you can do that might be appreciated. Please just ask first.
- Don't offer thoughtless reassurances. Don't say things like "Hey it could be worse; you could have cancer." This won't make the person with diabetes feel better. And the implicit message seems to be that diabetes is no big deal. However, it is.
- Do be supportive of a person's efforts at self-care. You can help by supporting a person's attempts at setting up an environment for success, such as by keeping healthy foods available. Please honor a person's decision to decline a particular food, even when you really want him or her to try it. You're most helpful when you aren't being a source of unnecessary temptation.
- Don't peek at or comment on a person's blood glucose numbers without asking him or her first. These numbers are private unless the person chooses to share them. It's normal to have numbers that are sometimes too low or too high. Your unsolicited comments about these numbers can add to feelings of disappointment, frustration and anger a person with diabetes might already feel.
- Do offer your love and encouragement. As a person works hard to manage diabetes successfully, sometimes just knowing that you care can be very helpful and motivating.
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