The Top 5 Ways to Help Someone Newly Diagnosed with Diabetes

The Top 5 Ways to Help Someone Newly Diagnosed with Diabetes

When someone you love is newly diagnosed with diabetes, whether it's type 1 or 2, you may become excessively worried. Don't fret. Luckily, there are some easy changes you can make to help your spouse, friend or relative adapt to their new diagnosis. Making lifestyle changes is tough, and your loved one is going through a range of emotions right now, so here's what you can do to help.

1. Do research and organize your findings

It's imperative that you both become educated now about how to manage a happy, healthy lifestyle, and sometimes the amount of information available for those with diabetes is overwhelming. A second set of eyes and another browser can often turn up things that one person can't. Look for printed information like doctor's office pamphlets, diabetes books, online communities, and support groups. Search the Internet for helpful information and print it out to put in a handy binder, so you can highlight important pieces of information.

2. Provide reminders

Checking sugar levels several times a day, taking medicine, going to doctor’s appointments, getting blood tests done — that's a lot to keep track of. Find ways to help your loved one remember these important tasks, such as suggesting that they program alarms in their phone for when it’s time to test their sugar levels. Keep in mind that it's easy to seem like an annoying hall monitor if you're not careful and this can lead to resentment on both of your parts. Remember that you're helping them manage, not nagging or doing it for them.

3. Adapt recipes

You both can still enjoy many of the normal foods that are your favorites by making some simple recipe modifications. For example, substituting whole wheat flour for bleached white flour or plain yogurt for sour cream make a big difference in blood sugar levels. Experiment with substitutions in your favorite recipes; you may find you prefer them more than the original ingredients.

4. Adopt the same lifestyle

Help make your loved one's health transition better by limiting or avoiding constant reminders of what's off limits to them now, such as junk food. To do so, you can join them in their new routine. For example, take a daily 30-minute walk with them after dinner — not only will it help regulate body weight and blood sugar levels, but you'll also create a closer bond.

5. Manage moods

A new diagnosis comes with a range of emotions like denial, anger or sadness; they may also experience irritability, resentment or despair. Understanding what your loved one may be feeling is key to being supportive. Acknowledge these emotions to help them move through them in a healthy way — ignoring them and hoping they'll go away can lead to more of the same emotions. Get support by surrounding yourselves with like-minded people, such as a support group or your loved one’s care team.

You're a great ally for your loved one. Get informed about how to assist in their transition to a healthy, new lifestyle to help their diabetes become manageable.