How Your Family Can Help Your Glycemic Control

Diabetes is a disease that is self-managed. You need to follow a healthy meal plan, exercise regularly, and, if you’re like many others, take medications. All of this requires a huge amount of daily self-supervision and self-organization.

So my question is, what if your family supported you with your diabetes care? Or, what if they hindered your self-care?

Positive Support is Life-Giving, Literally

A recent study from Vanderbilt University and published in Diabetes Care demonstrated some clear patterns about family support or the lack of it. The researchers found that people with type 2 diabetes had a better A1C value when their family members were supportive of their diabetes self-care activities. This, said the authors, is because family members can help motivate the person with diabetes and each day can help them remember to do their many self-care activities, such as taking medications.

Conversely, the study found that when family members were not supportive, participants were less likely to follow their medication plan, which of course then resulted in a higher A1C value.

Support vs. Sabotage

Family members can be supportive in so many areas. They can help with healthy eating, exercise motivation, glucose monitoring, managing medical appointments, and just by being emotionally available. A good way for family members to do this is to attend medical appointments--and even a diabetes class or two--with you. This way, they can understand what you need to do and help you to do it.

There can also be times when family members can unintentionally, or even intentionally, sabotage your diabetes care. One way this can happen is when family members continue to bring unhealthy foods into the house.

If you are in a supportive family environment, please thank your family for that. And, if you sometimes get to feeling sabotaged, tell your family what would make you feel more supported.

Try Not to Go It Alone

Last, if you are feeling alone with your diabetes, check out a local support group or join an online community through the American Diabetes Association. Separate and distinct online groups have been created for

  • adults living with type 1
  • adults living with type 2
  • people recently diagnosed with diabetes
  • parents

Support is important and can help you with your diabetes control--seek it out today.

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