Caregiver for non-compliant diabetic

By Anonymous Latest Reply 2018-02-26 17:21:55 -0600
Started 2011-04-15 10:52:55 -0500

My husband refuses to do much to control his diabetes. He takes his medicine , then eats what he wants, pretty much and refuses to eat vegetables, fish or watch portions or content. How can I help him to become more active and aware of the harm he's doing to himself? His doctor chewed him out just yesterday and he still acts like there should be a magic pill for weight loss and sugar control.

23 replies

JDakotahR 2018-02-26 17:21:55 -0600 Report

I feel your pain. My husband has gotten progressively worse with non-compliance over the last few years and the family is sure his erratic behavior is being caused by his high sugars. He first told me about it, I assured him that I would always be there to help when he needed it. Being in the medical field for as long as I've been, I know that you should only help them when they ask for it. You need to let them do most of the work. I do my part by letting him know there are healthy foods in the house and cooking diabetic compliant meals. I know it's hard to see a loved one practicing poor decision-making, but we can't put the responsibility on our shoulders if this is an adult we're referring to. Many of them as we know didn't get there on their own. They had plenty of help from poor eating habits, lack of exercise, and ignoring their upwardly soaring blood sugars, at least I know what's my husband's daily routine. The sad thing is they do not want to come to grips with the reality that everyone has their own set of health issues to deal with. I always remind him that he is not alone in his suffering with his condition, and I emails him articles containing diabetes info that might be of interest to him.

Anonymous 2016-01-08 23:35:46 -0600 Report

I can completely understand how you feel. I deal with the same thing. I have wondered whether I should stay (I get lied to, have to deal with the mood swings, etc. because he doesn't deal with his illness). I have chosen to stay, but coping can be difficult. I came across this article that has been extremely helpful for me in dealing with those feelings of anger and resentment.

knit57 2011-04-18 08:20:33 -0500 Report

First thing ou have to do is realize he is an adult. He will make his own choices. There is nothing you can do about it. My first husband was a type 1 diabetic, he would not do anything right. Back then they didn't do A1C, just fasting BS - so he would watch what he ate for a couple of days before the test. When the A1C came along, he couldn't "fool" the test any more, so they put him on inslun (he was on the strongest, and max dose of pills they could give him - because he was refusing inslun) He did the same thing with the inslun. He is now on a pump, his new wife recently told me, he since he is on the pump he can eat anything he wants.. That's one of the reasons he is my ex. I have a brother in law with Type 2 & CHF, he takes his pills and is on inslun, but eats everything - and I do mean everything. You have to distance yourself as much as you can, and accept it is his choice. I am going through something similar with my husband, he is Stage IV C cancer, has a feeding tube, he is also a heart transplant currently he is on only 1 rejection med. Transplant told me it can't be given through the tube - when he can no longer take, I was to put 1/3 of a tab under his tounge. He can't take them by moutn, refuses to put it under his tounge. So I put it in the feeding tube. Nothing else I can do. I know he isn't getting the correct amount, but I can't change things. Remember - God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the differance…

Good/Bad news is that when something goes wrong with him - and the Drs. tell him it is because of his sugar, he might make the changes to save his life.

Take care of yourself

MarkGThomas 2011-04-18 13:23:13 -0500 Report

Roseanne, thank you for sharing your struggles and insights. Our prayers are with you and your husband.


Hopieland 2011-04-18 00:26:15 -0500 Report

We all like what we like and do NOT want to be told what to do or how to live. I could not believe I had to change when Dx'd. I was afraid I couldn't change my eating habits. I was more afraid of the Diabetes. You mentioned it seems like your hubby thinks it will just go away if he ignores it. That's where I started. I was so relieve when my Doc referred me to a nutritionist at my local hospital. She was friendly and understand. I found out I can have almost anything I like to eat, BUT I had to make some changes in portions, learn to read labels carefully, and how to balance everything so it wasn't so overwhelming. Feeling VERY overwhelmed, I balked at any changes at first. After the first three years, simple, small changes have brought me to making more changes. He's probably scared, feeling he's lost control somehow, and confused: "How could I be a diabetic?" Doctors tend to scare most men. A chewing out probably wasn't a good thing. Dr. Gary said it: denial. When was he Dx'd (diagnosed)? Does he take insulin, or medication? Is he a meat and potatoes man? Do you use sugar substitutes and low sugar items in your home? Is he in generally good health except for D (dabetes)? Do you do the cooking and grocery shopping? All these can be helpful factors in simple ways you can help him begin to deal with the fact he needs to eat healthier than he has. Be as understanding as you can, and don't push him. Try to find simple, easy ways to help reduce fear involved, but be gentle. He may be trying to ignore his Dx, and yet struggling to grasp it at the same time. Sounds weird, but that's what I went through initially. What is his energy level? High, average or low. Does he test at all? Honestly, these questions answered will help you, him, and us, help both of you, at least to some extent. I know it's hard, since I have no patient bones in my body at all…but be patient. Information will help you lead him to make his own good choices, but it will take a lot of love and you two learning to be a team in this. Hang on. Change will come. In him somewhere, he knows there's no magic pill. One last question, was he Dx'd a Type 2? Sorry this is so long, but asking question is a good way to find answers to a very frustrating situation for both of you. You are both on a learning curve… I'll be hoping and praying you find your way.

0tina0 2011-04-17 23:37:40 -0500 Report

I have read all of the posts…they are very, very good… But at the end of the day you are still frustrated and angry at your spouse. He is being selfish and you don't deserve it! However, me saying that dosen't make it better for you. I wish it did. Diabetes sucks for everyone…including the caregiver. I wish you love, patience…and stregnth and I will pray for all three.

pixsidust 2011-04-16 22:28:28 -0500 Report

You probably do the grocery shopping too. Which means you have to buy what he can have and as Dr Gary said, join him on the diet. Get creative and make desserts using sugar free jello, whipped cream and fruit. there are other things you can do. Make vegetables flavorful, grill them bake them with olive oil and garlic or put a piece of fat free cheese to melt on it.
If he is left to cook his meals that just what he will do. So get creative and both of you find a healthier lifestyle

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-16 09:03:42 -0500 Report


Oh boy, I can't even count the number of times in an average month that I hear similar concerns from caregivers. I think that being a caregiver for a non-compliant patient is a very hard thing to deal with, it is kind of like watching someone standing on the edge of a cliff and not being able to talk them into moving to safer ground.

It sounds like your husband is in denial. He doesn't want to face the reality of his diagnosis, doesn't want to make lifestyle changes, and so he is just pretending it isn't there, as if at some point the diabetes will give up on him and move on to bother somebody else. He may be scared, even though he doesn't admit it, and not be acknowledging how scared he is. The doctor's scolding may increase his fear, but also increase the denial. It is a vicious cycle.

And then there is the "guy thing" going on here as well. He doesn't want a bunch of other people taking over his life and telling him what he has to do. He wants to feel like he is in control.

I suspect that you have tried about everything, but just in case, here are a couple of suggestions for you.

Are you joining with him on his diet? I would guess that you have already tried this, but if you haven't, you might try making some tasty food that is also diabetic-friendly and sitting down with him to eat it together. A diabetic diet is a healthy diet, so maybe you can work on it together. You might present him with some ideas and see what might interest him the most. Are there favorite foods that he has which could be prepared in a more healthy way? If he does the cooking, maybe you can offer to make a meal together. I might be reaching here, but you never know what might work until you try it (sometimes over and over).

Rome wasn't built in a day. You might encourage him to take small steps, not change everything overnight, and see if he might make a few compromises on diet.

If he feels scolded, his "I need to be in control" button might get pushed. So be careful about what you say to him. Suggest, offer to help, but don't push him too hard. He will only push back.

You might plan some activities that you could both enjoy, to introduce more activity into his life.

And, compassion trumps coercion. Let him know how much you love him, how you want him to be around and to be as healthy as possible. If you have friends or other family members, or children, that you can enlist in this effort, so much the better. Help him to see compliance as an opportunity and not a punishment.

I know this has to be scary and annoying for you, but your husband is feeling the same way. Join the resistance -- let him know that you get where he is coming from, that you understand why he is feeling the way that he is. and that you want to support him in any way that you can.

Patience is a virtue.

I hope this is helpful in some way. Please keep us posted!


June Tademy
June Tademy 2011-04-15 20:48:10 -0500 Report

Sounds just like my Mom, she was in denial and by the time that we, the children, found out she was in real trouble, we use to tell her to take care of herself for us if not for herself. She would cry and continue to do her bad habits, she had to go on dialysis for three years and died from blood infection. Her life was extended because we took care of her night and day and made sure she did the right things, so we had three good years with her. I think it is a little selfish for parents or husbands to put their loved ones through these things, especially when it is not neccesary. BE forceful let him know exactly how you feel and if he does not straighten up you will not be there for the consequences.. Believe me it is hard to be a caregiver to someone you love, it is heartbreaking, I will never forget it.

RAYT721 2011-04-15 19:20:27 -0500 Report

It definitely sounds like he's in denial. How long has it been since his diagnosis? What I found helped me get under control was taking baby steps towards control and I have to say, I'm in control.

Trying to turn your lifestyle around completely is unrealistic but I found little swaps here and there have done the trick. Everybody and every body is different. If I were trying to do it all at once, I would fail miserably and be unmotivated to pursue any goals at all.

Perhaps a little coaxing may help… suggest healthier options for food, suggest a walk after dinner, suggest water instead of whatever but keep it light coaxing. The more one person pushes an issue, the more the other pushes back.

Harlen 2011-04-15 19:02:28 -0500 Report

Go out and get some real good life ins and have him sine the forme and when hes ask why tell him that if he wishes to do what he is doing you need to think of what your going to need when he has passed one ???????
Worked for my best frend lol He now takes good care of himself O and he didnt sine the forms lol lol
Best wishes

donna62M 2011-04-15 17:22:52 -0500 Report

Send himto a nursing home with diabetics in the end stages…ones who have had amputationsand have lost kidney function, or have had a stroke because of diabeties…I used to work in this environment before I was diagnosed…It was a sure fired way to drive the complications home to me…I am bound and determined to not end up like this if at all possible…not that I don't slip every now and then…Good luck with your husband.

jayabee52 2011-04-15 14:45:34 -0500 Report

I feel for you.
I was non-compliant too for a while when first Dx'd. It got to the point where my wife at the time, took me to the pastor and sat me down there in his office and threatened to divorce me if I didn't take my condition seriously!

I got with the program and took care of my diabetes ("DM") like I should.

She ended up divorcing me a few years later over another problem, but she told some old college friends that she was afraid that I'd stop taking care of myself and I'd have major complications (like her dad did) and she'd have to take care of me (like her mother had to take care of her dad — even though she wanted to divorce him).

I like KD's suggestions better!

kdroberts 2011-04-15 11:18:13 -0500 Report

It sounds extreme and is very hard to do but this is often given as advice for people in your situation. Sit down with him and plan his funeral. Tell him you want to make sure you know where everything is, insurance documents, will, etc and what he wants to happen at his funeral and his remains. If you want to really do it right, get some brochures of local funeral homes so he knows you are serious. You should also discuss how you are going to make your house wheelchair accessible for when he has to have feet or legs amputated and how he want's to handle things when he has limited or no sight. Lastly, find a few local dialysis centers and ask him which one he would prefer when his kidneys fail and he needs dialysis multiple times a week. It's hard but you have to do it seriously and you have to make him do it. It has two possible benefits. It may make him realize what will happen to him if he doesn't change and he will start to take better care of himself. If that doesn't happen, you are prepared for what will happen and as hard as it may be, it will be a lot easier than if you do nothing.

The only person who can help your husband is himself. If he want's to bury his head in the sand then there is very little you can do. The only thing you have real control over is doing what you can for yourself and your families future without your husband.

Graylin Bee
Graylin Bee 2011-04-15 11:29:04 -0500 Report

Unfortunately what you say is true. As with any disease, the person who has the disease gets to decide what he/she will do from the options available. We can only try to inform them of the options if they will listen.

donna62M 2011-04-15 17:25:29 -0500 Report

I agree with both of you…but I have a hard time dealing with stupidity…and acting like he is to me is stupidity.

kdroberts 2011-04-15 22:10:35 -0500 Report

Those compilations will happen, sooner rather than later if his blood sugar is high, and if you are not prepared then dealing with them can be very hard and extremely stressful. Make no mistake, it should hopefully kickstart him into taking care of himself but if not, it serves a very real purpose for you and your family.

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