What Can I do for a Family Member with Diabetes?

By SageNTyler Latest Reply 2014-09-08 14:18:15 -0500
Started 2014-09-01 16:13:43 -0500

I do not have diabetes. My brother was diagnosed with type 1 when he was 15, almost 10 years ago. When he was originally diagnosed I was too young and selfish to understand the kind of support he needs or to take the time to understand his illness. Now, I see him continue to struggle and have decided it is time all the people who love him help him take control of his illness. That is why my husband and I joined diabetic connect and are encouraging the rest of my family to do the same, but I find myself wondering, what else can I do to help my brother? What can I say? What will make this easier for him? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

13 replies

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-09-08 14:18:15 -0500 Report

Hi SageNTyler,

Nice to meet you. It certainly says a lot about who you are as a person that you want to be supportive of your brother.

As others have suggested, just being there is a great way to support someone. Get educated on diabetes. Let him you know you are there for him. Invite him to talk if he feels like it. And offer to be available if he ever needs help with anything.

That's a good way to start.

What I often hear from diabetics is that, out of a sense of concerns, friends and relatives start commenting on what they are eating, asking them if they are checking their blood sugar, suggesting ways they can exercise... you get the picture. It's called micromanaging and it can be disempowering to someone who is already taking responsibility for their self-care and feels they know what they are doing.

(Not that you would even consider doing that, but just saying...)

Your brother is fortunate to have you!


Stuart1966 2014-09-04 21:31:11 -0500 Report

As a grown woman, an adult, perhaps asking him directly would be a decent way to start.You have the ability to back him up now, you have the psychological skills to do so.

How can I help you, I failed in the past and want to help you now that I realize it. Tell me how I can help… give me some ideas in ways I will-can help you keep it together.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-09-08 14:09:23 -0500 Report

Stuart, very good advice. Just asking "how can I help" shows how much you care. And it gives the person living with diabetes the opportunity to say what they need, and maybe even what they don't need.

IronOre 2014-09-02 12:52:55 -0500 Report

Well, I think it is a mistake for you to take over his illness, but not a mistake to help him find a good endocrinologist associated with a good diabetes clinic, and let them steer him in the right direction.
As far as joining DC goes; in these forums there is good information, and not so good information, so you really need to watch out about what you read in here. After all it is a forum where just anybody can join, and they do not need to be who they say are.
I was diagnosed at age 14, and that was 39 years ago, and based on my experience the best thing you can do is don't nag him, and let him find his own direction to where he needs to go.

SageNTyler 2014-09-03 16:11:12 -0500 Report

Thank you for your advice. I think I should change my wording and way of thinking. I can't take control of his illness but I would like to give him the support he needs so he can take control of it or even just manage it and take care of himself. It is so hard not to nag when I see him eating things I know he should not be eating, but I believe you are correct and that I will have to learn to let him figure it out without my input. Thanks!

Stuart1966 2014-09-06 23:01:50 -0500 Report

There are some here, with decades of intimate experience playing with this dragon. We do not have to control it… we must learn to respect it, and never ever ignore it.

Do neither and with time it will teach all of us that it breaths fire, a lot! There are approaches that can be kind, others helpful, but if you catch yourself being the blood-sugar police, write yourself a ticket and laugh at yourself. He'll appreciate it more… I know I would.

As his sister, you might well want to understand how he goes about stuff, how he reaches different conclusions. Still his pet, but, if you know his methods, you can help, from time to time when you see him, have him over, or just chat with him, as his sister.

haoleboy 2014-09-01 21:51:41 -0500 Report

support of family and loved ones is important for those dealing with chronic illnesses. bless you

Type1Lou 2014-09-01 17:32:51 -0500 Report

Learn as much as you can about diabetes and how it is best managed. For many of us, that means a drastic reduction in the amount of carbohydrates we consume each day. You can help during family outings by having low-carb food options available for him (which are also healthier for everyone since, as a culture, we tend to consume much too many carbs ) Have fast-acting carbs on you when you are with your brother to help if/when he has low blood sugar episodes (raisins, glucose gels or tabs, lifesavers…stay away from sweet but fatty foods like candy bars, cookies and cakes…the sugar in them is not absorbed as quickly due to the fat content). Don't nag or be the "diabetes police". Just by being there for him, you're helping.

SageNTyler 2014-09-03 16:19:06 -0500 Report

Thank you! I know that a drastic reduction in carbs has been stressed to him by every doctor he has seen. This is something he has really struggled with. My husband and I have committed ourselves to a lower carb diet to show him support and simply to keep ourselves more healthy as well. Your advice is great because it made me realize I need to look at our Thanksgiving and Christmas menus. Thanks!

IronOre 2014-09-02 12:55:55 -0500 Report

why a drastic reduction in carbs ? for type 1 as well as type 2 ?
Based on my reading and experience the drastic reduction in carbs that you are mentioing is causing lots of problems in some people, after all carbs are the building block of life.

Type1Lou 2014-09-02 17:59:28 -0500 Report

I am speaking from my experience and I know I am not alone. I limit my carbohydrate intake to 120 grams per day and have been able to maintain my weight at around 120 lbs and keep my A1c's in the good control range. My August A1c was 6.6. I am an active 65-year old retiree with no major complications requiring treatment and have been following a low-carb diet for the past 12 years. I don't feel I have suffered any adverse effects, mentally or physically, from my low carb approach. I have had diabetes since 1976. I learned about lowering carbs to control my BG's from reading Dr Richard Bernstein's book "Diabetes Solution". Dr Bernstein himself is a type 1 diabetic who espoused a low-carb approach long before the mainstream medical community came around. Although not specifically addressing diabetes, there was a New York Times article in today's Tampa Bay Times citing a new study by the National Institutes of Health and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine which found that "people who avoided carbohydrates and eat more fat…lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades." So, I think there is validity in espousing the reduction of carbohydrate intake.

IronOre 2014-09-03 03:11:06 -0500 Report

Well, as far as I am concerned 120 grams/day is on the low end, but I am heard about others who try to do much lower than that and end up hurting themselves.

Type1Lou 2014-09-03 09:19:57 -0500 Report

The reality is that diabetes is such an individual disease that no blanket statement can cover and work for us all. We have to do our homework and find out what works for us, individually. Our culture is heavy on carbohydrates which has contributed to the diabetes epidemic now occurring…which leads me back to my statement that, yes, a "drastic reduction" in carbohydrates is "usually in order for many of us"

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