Helping a Loved One With Diabetes
When Someone You Love Has Diabetes
If your loved one has diabetes then there are some things you should know. For one thing, there are often very few symptoms except when blood sugars are very far out of the normal range. Sometimes a partner, relative or loved one can recognize when a person’s blood sugar has gone too low because they may be exhibiting fatigue, confusion or even strange behavior. Someone who is inappropriately asleep and unarousable may have a dangerously low blood sugar, and you can help if you know how to check the blood sugar using the finger-stick glucometer.
Likewise, when the blood sugar is excessively high, symptoms may be very few until it reaches a dangerous level. At that point symptoms may include severe fatigue and drowsiness or even coma. If you have doubts, it can be lifesaving to obtain an accurate blood sugar measurement using the finger-stick glucometer.
So as the loved one of a person with diabetes one of your jobs is to understand the simple process of a finger-stick and a home glucometer measurement of blood sugar. Try it out a few times and make sure you are comfortable using it. It could save the life of your loved one.
Another thing that is helpful for partners and loved ones of diabetic individuals is to know that regular medical checkups are important. Regular visits and appointments with a primary care doctor or endocrinologist are necessary as the disease process evolves, as weight changes or as new medicines change or become available.
Partners of diabetic individuals can be helpful in reminding a diabetic person to check their feet carefully for cuts and sores before they become a severe problem.
Perhaps the most helpful thing a partner or loved one can do for a person with diabetes is to be a positive and supportive friend, cheerleader and role model. Some of the most important changes a person can make to improve their life and health with diabetes involve things like regular walking and other exercise, smoking cessation and improved diet and food choices. All of these can be immensely helped by having a partner or loved one who is making the same changes or behaving in the same healthy ways. Ask your partner to take a walk regularly, find physical activities you both enjoy. Yes, this is about your partner, but the choices you make about yourself have a great impact on your partner. So if you smoke, quit, and help encourage your partner or loved one with diabetes to quit. Avoid excessive alcohol intake. And most difficult of all, help with healthy food choices and maintaining a healthy weight.
Tips for partners of diabetic individuals:
- Learn to use a glucometer
- Recognize the symptoms of high or low blood sugar levels
- Encourage regular doctor visits and checkups
- Help check feet for sores or cuts
- Quit smoking and encourage your partner to do so
- Find enjoyable exercises for both of you
- Maintain a healthy weight and good food choices