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Someone I Know Has Diabetes – How Can I Help?

Tips to help be a more supportive d-partner

Some of us living with diabetes may need a team of supporters around us, and will appreciate even the smallest amount of care and effort when offered in the right way.

Diabetes is, of course, a physical thing. It doesn’t matter what type of diabetes it is, the goal is to keep blood sugars in range as much as possible. We have physical tools to help us – everything from insulin delivery devices to diet and exercise. The idea sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Use the tools to do the job and accomplish the goal.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always that simple. Living with diabetes takes a tremendous amount of focus, resolve, and hard work. Sometimes, even when we try very hard, we still can’t get our blood sugar numbers where we would like them to be. And somewhere in all of that work, diabetes becomes more than just physical; it can become a hugely emotional issue, as well.  To stay both physically and psychologically healthy, those of us with diabetes need support.

Nearly everyone has people in their lives who want to help and support them – friends, family, coworkers – but most are not sure what that support should look like. It’s a touchy subject and a moving target. If the support is not offered in the right way, it may backfire and actually create separation rather than connection.

Many of the people who are trying to help don’t understand much about what diabetes is, how it works, and what we need to do to take care of ourselves. What may be a simple question or an innocent comment from someone without diabetes may come across as patronizing or judgmental to someone with diabetes.

What we need is understanding and encouragement; maybe even a little bit of recognition for all of the hard work diabetes requires. Support at the right time can be a much-needed boost of energy when we’re feeling run down.

Spend some time talking with us about diabetes. Ask questions: “How often do you check your blood sugar?” “What planning do you need to do before exercising?” Questions like these show that you are interested in understanding how diabetes affects us and how we make decisions.

As you learn about diabetes, you’ll see how hard we need to work to manage blood sugar levels, and you’ll gain a definite respect for what it takes to live with diabetes. You’ll be better able to offer genuine support that really helps and that we will appreciate.

The more you understand, the better support you’ll be able to offer. We will also feel more comfortable talking with you about our lives with diabetes, which means you become another helpful resource and an important part of our self-care.

We would love for you to be a part of helping us be healthy.

Scott Johnson is a freelance writer who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1980. He blogs at Scott’s Diabetes and is a paid contributor for the Sanofi US Diabetes team. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates. 

© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience

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