Living with someone who has diabetes can be a challenge. It can be scary, confusing, and overwhelming, but there are three key things that can help make it easier.

1. Communicate

The person with diabetes and those who live with him or her need to agree on how to manage the disease together. Will the person with diabetes be mostly responsible for his or her own care with the loved one(s) serving as a back-up? What role will the loved one play in managing the diabetes?  Does the person with diabetes want or need care or assistance? All of these things need to be discussed and agreed upon for the person with diabetes and their loved one(s) to peacefully co-exist and manage the disease effectively.

2. Educate

Both the person with diabetes and at least one other loved one should be educated about diabetes and the proper ways to manage it. The loved one should know how to test blood sugar, what to do for highs and lows, and how to give insulin injections if necessary. Both people should know the general guidelines for healthy eating with diabetes and safe daily practices, including disposing of diabetic supplies and proper exercise.

3. Encourage

Living with and managing diabetes can be difficult and even result in periods of depression. It’s important for those living with someone with diabetes to understand that these periods happen and that they need to help encourage the person with diabetes through them. And it goes both ways. Sometimes the person with diabetes needs to be the one who encourages the loved one, but if the care and assistance becomes overwhelming for the loved one, the person with diabetes can help provide the needed morale boost. In addition, the person with diabetes and their loved one(s) need to help remind each other that life with diabetes isn’t a death sentence and it doesn’t have to limit your life. With some smarts and planning, the impact of the disease can really be managed well. Encouragement and support toward healthy eating, being physically active by exercising regularly, and living an otherwise active life are also very important for the loved one to provide.

A few final words

As a person with diabetes, I know I need help sometimes, especially when I experience low blood sugar. It’s nice to know that my husband can help if I need it in those types of situations, but I don’t want him to hover or make a bigger deal about my diabetes than it really is. I want him to be patient with the accommodations we need to make so I can manage the disease, but not treat me like I’m fragile or sick. I like feeling strong and healthy, and he helps me do that by encouraging me to eat right and exercise–by doing it along with me. Work with your loved ones to establish your best relationship to support managing your disease — it will so be worth the effort! Remember: Be smart. Be healthy. Live YOUR life!