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How Do I Get Support from Family and Friends?

Studies indicate that one of the best predicators of how well someone takes care of their diabetes is the amount of support they get from their family and friends. However, not all support is helpful. For example, one person might enjoy their family watching everything they eat while another person could be driven to the do the exact opposite by that type of scrutiny.

How do you get the kind of support you need? First, you have to decide what, when and how you want support. Then you need to tell the people who are involved with your care what you need. Usually, family members and friends are willing to help. If they have embarrassed or irritated you in the past it might be that they don't understand diabetes, or they are not sure how to help. They simply did what they thought was helpful.

Therefore, you need to:

  • Educate your family and friends about your diabetes.
  • Define how you want family and friends to help.
  • Ask them directly for help and teach them how to give it.

Second, family members and friends need to understand diabetes, listen to what you think and feel, and support or join you in making some healthy changes. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, it simply will be easier if your family also eats the same lower fat foods. Your family and friends will also have concerns and worries (for example, guilt, fear, anger, etc.) about your diabetes that need to be talked about so that realistic expectations can be set, misconceptions corrected, and feelings understood.

Perhaps the two most important guidelines for family members are to have realistic expectations about blood glucose levels and to avoid blame. Family members need your help and the help of your healthcare team in order to understand that you cannot always control blood sugar levels even if you follow your diabetes care plan. Blaming the person with diabetes for high or low blood sugar levels never helps and frequently causes hurt feelings, arguments or serious conflict. The key to genuine support is to avoid blame and focus on problem solving.

With that said, there are times when there may be no clue as to what has caused the problem or how to correct it. At moments like these what may be needed is a hug, a sympathetic word or a dozen roses. Family and friends need to understand that this kind of support can be very helpful during frustrating times.

Page last updated: November 23, 2014