Diabetes is a disease that involves how your body uses sugar. In your body, sugar is converted to glucose, which is then used for energy. People with diabetes have too much glucose in their blood, which can cause devastating health consequences.
There are two types of diabetes, but they both involve similar issues. Type 1 diabetes is something that a person has for life. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes can sometimes be reversed and is often associated with obesity. No matter what type of diabetes your loved one has, it’s important to understand the following things so that you can support them and help them make the right choices and stay healthy. By knowing these things, you can offer the support and guidance that a person might need to control their condition.
People Feel Judged
People with type 1 diabetes often feel judged since the disease is often associated with poor dietary choices and being overweight. While this might be the case for some instances of diabetes, people with type 1 diabetes inherit the condition and have no control over whether or not they have the illness. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes can be controlled. Either way, remember that your loved one is not only suffering from diabetes, but is probably being judged by others for it too. Be available to offer comfort when this happens, and keep your own judgement to yourself.
Diabetes Is Not Always Curable
Type 2 diabetes can be reversed for some people, but if your loved one has type 1 diabetes, they cannot cure their disease. There are several treatment options for people with diabetes, but the person you love cannot “get over” type 1 diabetes. If you love someone with type 2 diabetes, you can help them make the right choices to mitigate the symptoms and hopefully erase the condition altogether. This could be offering support during mealtimes or helping them remember to turn down a food that might not be a healthy choice for their disease.
Treatment Is For Life
Because there is currently no cure for type 1 diabetes, your loved one will be on treatment for the rest of their life. That will probably include having to administer insulin shots on a daily basis, as well as regular checking of their blood sugar levels. Most people with diabetes will also have to wear a monitor that alerts them if their blood sugar levels fall out of the normal range. This protects that person from the many health consequences that can occur when blood sugar is out of whack.
Carbs Are The Enemy
For diabetics, carbs are something that your loved one will have to be very careful with. That’s because carbs are converted to glucose in the body and can really mess with the blood sugar levels of someone with diabetes. Some carbs are fine, but ingesting too many can be dangerous. If you have a loved one with diabetes, you can help by encouraging them to monitor and control their carbohydrate intake and offer reminders and advice when they might be overdoing it.
Diabetes Is Not Caused By Eating Too Much Sugar
There is a common misconception that a sugary diet is what causes diabetes. This is simply not true. For people with type 1 diabetes, their condition is genetic, and sugar has no influence on its progression or development. People with type 2 diabetes may have the condition due to their weight. Sugary foods are high in calories and can lead to weight gain. The sugar itself isn’t the cause, but being overweight might be. The bottom line is that too much sugar won’t cause diabetes, but it can lead to insulin resistance, which is a contributor to type 2 diabetes. Your loved one would like you to remember that criticizing sugar intake is not helpful and is something that diabetics are often touchy about.
Trained Dogs Can Help
For many people with diabetes, a specially trained dog can save their life. Your loved one would probably love to have a service animal that can detect dangerous alterations to blood sugar. This dog will alert a person to the issue, which allows for intervention before things become too dangerous. This is especially valuable if a person experiences blood sugar alteration while they sleep and may not notice the fluctuations.
They Aren’t Drunk
In many cases a person’s behavior when blood sugar is off mimics that of a person who has had too much to drink. If you notice your loved one acting strangely, don’t just assume that they are drunk. Take action right away because blood sugar levels are likely in need of immediate attention. Remember that diabetics already feel judged, and it’s your job to make sure your loved one is well-cared for and that you are available for help when it’s needed. If treatment doesn’t help, don’t be afraid to dial 911, because when blood sugar isn’t right, your loved one could go into a coma or even die.
They Know How To Balance Things
No one likes to feel left out, but diabetics often are when mealtime comes. Don’t worry about offering your loved one all the foods on hand. They know how to balance their blood sugar levels and are sure to accept or decline based on what they know about their condition. It’s not your job to make your loved one’s plate (unless you are the parent and they need your help to manage their condition), so don’t just assume they can’t have a certain food. Ask first if you prefer, but try not to make them feel excluded or make assumptions when it’s time to serve a meal.
Be Sympathetic, But Don’t Feel Pity
Anyone with a chronic disease, diabetes included, will tell you that feeling pitied is not a pleasant thing. Your loved one would like your sympathy and understanding about their disease, but they don’t want you to feel sorry for them or pity them because of it. If your loved one has a new diagnosis or is really struggling, talk to them about the things that you could do to help. That way you can offer your assistance without any hard feelings.
If you suspect that your loved one has diabetes, but they don’t want to acknowledge it or refuse to be diagnosed, you can watch for symptoms that help you encourage the person to seek support. They might include excessive thirst, frequent trips to the bathroom, weight loss, fatigue, irritability and infections. There are plenty of complications when it comes to diabetes that include heart disease, nerve damage, kidney problems, vision issues, skin problems, Alzheimer’s disease and hearing impairment. Supporting a loved one with diabetes might not be easy, but you’ll be glad you took steps to ensure that person’s health so that they can live a long, healthy life with you by their side.